Friday, June 27, 2014

Stan Kenton - Artistry in Rhythm - By Dr. William Lee [From the Archives]

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

"A lot of people didn't like what he was doing musically, and I don't know why. He was way ahead of all the avant garde play­ers and the so-called experimenters. But he did it when it wasn't fashionable, and he got put down. And now there are people who won't give credit where credit is due. I say that Stan Kenton was one of the most important pioneers of jazz, and he also had one of the great swing bands. There can never be a history of jazz without the name of Stan Kenton ..."
— Mel Lewis, drummer and bandleader

"Stan Kenton is six and a half feet of nervous exhausting energy that has produced some of the most aggravating, some of the most impressive, some of the most depressive, some of the most exciting, some of the most boring and certainly some of the most controversial sounds music and/or noise ever to emanate from any big band."
— George T. Simon, Jazz critic

"Among the transient voices of jazz, the magic of the Kenton sound will long survive its creator. This book captures the exis­tential qualities of both the man and his music."
— Peter C. Newman, Editor, Maclean's Magazine

As the frequent postings on the blog about him and his music would suggest, Stan Kenton is one of my heroes.

He is not every Jazz fan’s hero, but I’m glad he is one of mine for all the reasons expressed by Mort Sahl in his Foreword to and by Dr. William Lee and Frank Sinatra in their Prelude and Introduction to Dr. Lee’s Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm [Los Angeles: The Creative Press, 1980] which follows these opening comments.

Stan received a great deal of criticism throughout his career for a variety of reasons some of which were perhaps appropriate and even relevant.

But if you’ve ever tried to play this music, you know hard it is to do so, let alone to do so consistently well. In this context, I could never understand the denigration that was leveled at him from what seemed to be purely negative and mean-spirited points-of-view.

Sure, Stan played some garbage. Who hasn’t? What, everything that Duke wrote was a masterpiece? Woody Herman once made an album entitled Woody’s Winners which some members of the Herman Old Guard promptly dubbed Woody’s Losers. And Count Basie's was a heckuva blues band, was a heckuva blues band, was a … you get the idea.

Stan’s music may not have been to everybody’s taste, but the strength of his musical convictions and his willingness to act upon them should have been.

Yes, I mean that statement as a moral imperative. The Jazz World can never have too many heroes, whatever their musical preferences.

At the end of this piece, you’ll find a video tribute to Stan with one of the many, fine bands he formed in the last decade of his career playing their version of his theme song – Artistry in Rhythm. After all these years, listening to that theme still leaves me with goose bumps.

© -William F. Lee/The Creative Press, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

By Mort Sahl

We are all his children. He changed the lives of everyone he met. He was a rider to the stars, but he built a band bus and took us with him.

I write this through a veil of pain. The wound has been open since August, 1979, when he left us. Now I remove the poker from the crucible of memory — that's all we have now — and attempt to cauterize the wound.

Where were you when first you heard him? I was in a C-47 in the Aleutian Islands, but my radio was in the Hollywood Palladium. When I came home, I bought, first, "The Peanut Vendor" on a 78. A Capitol record, because Dave Dexter recognized talent. Peggy Lee, Johnny Mercer, Nat Cole, Stan Kenton. The elitist discovers talent, the populist passes it around. Like a jug, I guess!

Stan Kenton took America at her word: The only limit was your imagination. He expressed our defiance when we couldn't find the words. He had weapons in the war of sound. He even invented one: the mellophonium.

But it wasn't just his vision he unleashed. It was everyone else's, too. He played the works of Pete Rugolo, Bill Russo, Bob Graettinger, Gerry Mulligan, Franklyn Marks, Johnny Richards, Bill Mattheu, Dee Barton, Hank Levy, the last so fascinated with time changes that Stan would study the chart and ask, "What's the area code?" As for Bill Holman, his talent needed an entire album.

Stan believed you didn't try to knock the audiences out; you really blew to knock yourself out. He taught that to Art Pepper, Lee Konitz, Shelly Manne, Stan Levey, Maynard Ferguson, Kai Winding, Laurindo Almeida — well, the manifest is lengthy. It reads as an index and a calendar of where we went to school, when we went to war, with whom we fell in love, and every time we heard "Artistry in Rhythm" when we came home!

The critics never liked Stan. Ralph Gleason, Nat Hentoff, Leonard Feather tried to deny him. First, on intellectual grounds: the music was formal, written. It "didn't swing". (Ask Zoot Sims. Ask Stan Getz.) Critics used their impeccable liberal credentials to define the struggle with this man who threatened their status quo. They pointed out that his band was all white. Ask Curtis Counce. Ask Ernie Royal, ask Carlos Vidal. Ask Kevin Jordan. Ask Jean Turner. But you should never have asked Stan. He was an American who disliked coercion and never had time to rebut critics. He thought it a waste of time, like nostalgia. "Do you reject it?" I asked. "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be," Stan replied.

Kenton's revolution in the use of brass, his Progressive Jazz period and the Innovations Orchestra excited the people and threat­ened, thus frightened, the press. When all else failed, they politicized the struggle once more and labeled him a rightist. The only political reference he ever made to me was one night on the bus, as we rolled across Kansas. "Maybe if all the farmers went to each coast and beat up all the intellectuals, the country would be better off."

Well, of course, they're not intellectuals. They're dilettantes. Oppenheimer was an intellectual. So is McCarthy. Hentoff hasn't fought for them. And they're not liberals. William O. Douglas was. Feather didn't mourn his passing. You say Douglas wasn't a musician. Well, Feather didn't mourn Stan's passing either.

It's not right versus left, or male versus female (ask Mary Fettig, who played tenor on Stan's band), it's the individual versus the group. Stan was first an individual. Right-wing? No, anti-collective. If the truth were known, the bourgeoisie in jazz objected not to what he had to say so much as his right to say it.

Stan's struggle with the band was not political, it was Freudian. The band looked upon him as a father; they called him "The Old Man" and they constantly felt his presence. Some found this inhibiting, but he looked upon them as children. The nest was structured, but only so they could fly beyond.

No one ever asked Stan to score a movie, but no contemporary composer is without his influence. Ask Hank Mancini. Ask Johnny Mandel.

Regrouping in 1970, Stan did what any independent does in a controlled society. He took his message to the people. He bought his own bus with an 800 mile range, and set out to establish music clinics at the universities — almost a baseball farm system. The worthiest students joined the band. "It's like making the Olympic team", one told me.

Stan never condemned those of this alumni who were vegetating as "successes" in studios. He was too busy developing places for the new composers and players to stand. And after all, if you have a place to stand, you can change the world.

I know it happened this way because I was there, right to the last night in August, 1978, when the entire trumpet section came down in front of the band to play a five-man screech-out chorus. By the way, it was "The Peanut Vendor".

As Don McLean says in "American Pie", it was "the day the music died."

When President Kennedy was killed, Senator Moynihan was asked, "Will we ever smile again?", and Moynihan said, "Yes, but we'll never be young again."
I have faith that in spite of the drug cutters, the corrupt press, the reactionary musicians who are still trying to imitate Bill Basie, somewhere some kid had the Kenton experience that will lead to his creating his own music. There will be a Kenton legacy if that kid fights for it.

I had that experience. Stan Kenton was my friend ... I loved him . . but, ultimately, Stan Kenton was a leader for 38 years. The orchestra played — and I heard it.

We are all his children.


‘‘The era has only begun. These are dynamic times and jazz is a dynamic language. To a musician, oft-repeated phrases soon grow sterile, and he seeks a new, exciting way to state his truths. For Stan Kenton, this constant, self-perpetuating search is a basic fact of life, so much a part of his being that it touches and inspires all with whom he comes in contact. He is a unique person, a unique explorer.’ (Freeman, The Kenton Era, unpublished brochure for Capitol Records, 1954, p. 43)

Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Conductor, Leader, Administrator, Educator, Philosopher, Innovator, Humanitarian — Stan Kenton was a twentieth century renaissance man. Consider that while he had little formal education, he championed the cause of higher education; he maintained and supported (often at his own expense) large orchestras at times when society, economics, and his peers found it impractical to do so; he conducted non-dance orchestras when dancing was in, and dance orchestras when dancing was out; he built his name into a household word through nearly forty years on the road, yet preferred to travel on the orchestra bus (facetiously labeled NOWHERE) with his personnel; the same talent and drive that has produced some of the most exciting music of the twentieth century took legal steps to see that his name is not perpetuated via the "Stan Kenton Orchestra under the direction of" tradition.

A cursory review of a few of the musicians whose careers were launched and/or furthered by Stan Kenton reveals some of the most noted jazz figures of our time. Vocalists: June Christy, Anita O'Day, Chris Connor, Ann Richards, The Four Freshmen, Jeri Winters, Dave Lambert, Jean Turner; Arrangers/Composers: Gerry Mulligan, Allyn Ferguson, Manny Albam, Russ Garcia, Lennie Niehaus, Gene Roland, Lalo Schifrin, Shorty Rogers, Bill Holman, Marty Paich, Bill Russo, Neal Hefti, Pete Rugolo, Bob Graettinger, Hugo Montenegro, Johnny Richards, Willie Maiden, Dee Barton, Hank Levy, Bob Curnow, Ken Hanna, Mark Taylor, Alan Yankee; Alto Saxophonists: Bud Shank, Lennie Niehaus, Lee Konitz, Charlie Mariano, Art Pepper, Tony Campise, John Park, Gabe Baltazar, David Schildkraut, Vinnie Dean, Boots Mussulli; Tenor Saxophonists: Stan Getz, Sam Donahue, Richie Kamuca, Zoot Sims, Buddy Collette, Vido Musso, Bill Perkins, Bob Cooper, Red Dorris, Jimmy Giuffre, Bill Holman, Don Menza; Baritone Saxophonists: Pepper Adams, Bob Gioga, Bob Gordon, Jack Nimitz, Billy Root, Alan Yankee; Trumpeters: Conte and Pete Candoli, Sam Noto, Ernie Royal, Al Porcino, Buddy Childers, Rolf Erickson, Maynard Ferguson, Jack Sheldon, Bud Brisbois, Gary Barone, Dalton Smith, Marvin Stamm, Gappy Lewis, Mike Vax; Trombonists: Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana, Milt Bernhart, Kai Winding, Bobby Burgess, Kent Larsen, Bob Fitzpatrick, Archie LeCoque, George Roberts, Jim Amlotte, Dick Shearer; French Hornist Julius Watkins; Mellophoniumists: Joe Burnett, Tom Wirtel, Lou Gasga; Guitarists: Ralph Blaze, Laurindo Almeida, Sal Salvador, Bill Strange; Bassists: Eddie Safranski, Don Bagley, Red Mitchell, Curtis Counce, Pat Senatore, Monte Budwig, Howard Rumsey, Kerby Stewart; Drummers; Stan Levey, Shelly Manne, Charlie Perry, Irv Kluger, Mel Lewis, Chuck Flores, Peter Erskine, Gary Hobbs, Jerry McKenzie and Percussionists: Jack Costanza, Larry Bunker, Frank De Vito, Ramon Lopez. …”

Perhaps long time colleague and admirer Frank Sinatra best summed up the Kenton contribution:

‘Stan Kenton is the most significant figure of the modern jazz age. His fight to popularize modern jazz won him a legion of followers, but this was not an easy road ... In every time there are men whose special role it is to give expression to the spirit of their day. They become its symbols, each in his own field of art. Stan Kenton is such an individual, the symbol of a vibrant world that finds its voice in jazz. His story is, in many ways, the story of modern jazz, and this musical era is his ...

Kenton felt a personalized sympathy toward jazz . . . Kenton has always felt that music is food for the emotions, and that greater demands are being made of it continuously because we are reaching deeper into our inner selves . . .

When broadcasting, playing concerts or dance dates, Kenton always credits his musicians. Their names are always mentioned, who wrote or arranged the compositions, who plays solo. His men never go unnoticed. He often adds touches of humor and is rarely lost for words. His shows are all adlibbed. Kenton's manner of presentation has never failed to inspire enthusiasm in every audience ....
(Christopher Mueller and Dr. Siegfried Mueller, Artistry in Kenton, Vols. I, II, 1968 and 1973, Vienna: privately published).’

This book traces the history of the life and professional activities of Stan Kenton and those who were fortunate enough to be touched by his personal, professional, and artistic genius.

William F. Lee
Coral GablesFlorida 1980
[Please click on the “X” to close out of the ads.]

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stan Kenton - The Later Years [From the Archives]

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“[Mike] Vax claimed Warren Gale to be the most significant [trumpet] soloist in the [Kenton] band: ‘If ever there was a fiery Jazz trumpet player that was perfect for the Kenton band it was Warren.  …’

‘Dick Shearer was the most important person on the band. I think that Stan felt about him like a son. … the thing is, the way Dick played trombone, that was the Kenton sound. Dick’s trombone was derivative of all the great Kenton lead players, going all the way back to Kai Winding. But sometimes the person who’s the end of a legacy, becomes the culmination of the legacy, so I think Dick was the greatest lead trombone player of them all.’”

- Mike Vax, lead trumpet player with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, as quoted in Michael Sparke, Stan Kenton: This is an Orchestra! [DentonTXUniversity of North Texas Press, 2010, p. 222].

A number of the guys I grew up playing music with – among them, trumpeter Warren Gale and trombonist Dick Shearer – later went on the Kenton band, roughly around the mid-to-late 1960s.

When I first gigged with Warren, he was living in Long BeachCA and playing like Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard during their years with drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Given his captivation with Lee and Freddie’s hard-bop style of trumpet playing, in a million years I wouldn’t have figured him for the Kenton Band.

Dick Shearer, on the other hand, rarely talked about doing anything else. Playing trombone with Stan Kenton’s Orchestra was a dream come through for Dick.  Not many of us get to realize our dreams. Dick did.

While Warren, Dick and others [Ray Reed] were making their journey through Kenton’s music. I was making my own journey, thanks to a government sponsored trip aboard. When I got back, the world had changed and so had I.

I moved away from performing music and on to others things in my life.

But Stan’s music always continued to fascinated me and I vicariously followed it as it made its way around various colleges campuses in nearby Redlands, California or in such far-flung places as Provo, Utah [Brigham Young University] and IndianapolisIndiana [Butler University].

In all my years of following it, I never knew there was so much to know about the Stan Kenton Orchestra, that is, until I read Michael Sparke’s book about the band entitled Stan Kenton: This is an Orchestra!.

Published in April, 2010 by the University of North Texas Press, it offers a detailed, chronological analysis of the band from its beginnings in 1941 until Stan’s death in 1979.

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles is especially indebted to Michael [isn’t everyone who ever wanted to know more about Stan and his music?] for his chapters on The Later Years of the band’s existence, a period of the band's history about which we lacked details.

For a variety of reasons, fans of the Kenton band, particularly those who followed it closely in the 1940s and 1950s, were not partial to Stan’s music during the last decade-and-a-half of its existence. I had the impression from some of musicians on the band at this time that they were keenly aware of this bias and felt it to be undeserved.

As Michael Sparke explains it:

“Musicians from the Seventies often feel like the underdogs, because they know they played good music well, yet in general it is the earlier bands that are most often feted and remembered. In moments of hon­esty, however, many will admit they understand and endorse this com­prehension. The truth is, none of the few remaining touring bands of the Seventies, whose leaders roamed the land like the sole remaining dino­saurs of an almost-extinct species, were quite the same as they had been in their younger days. Conditions were so totally different the decline was inevitable, especially as age and illness took its toll. But it is also true, many talented musicians worked for Kenton in the Seventies, and a lot of significant music was played. The listener who ignores this last decade will be the loser.” [p.222]

In addition to all of the fabulous music they performed, much of it extremely challenging both from a compositional standpoint and because of its use of unusual time signatures, Stan and The Later Years orchestras made a very significant contribution to Jazz education by their presence at clinics held at many of the country’s universities.

Stan embraced these teaching laboratories as a way of perpetuating Jazz and its traditions, as well as, a means of developing future performers for his and other big bands.

With the end of the Neophonic Orchestra after four seasons in 1968, Stan really poured his heart and soul into these music camps which usually began and ended with a concert by the orchestra with various teaching scenarios contained in between these performances.

We thought we’d end this multi-part look at the music of Stan Kenton by sharing the liner notes from the Creative World 2 LP album Stan Kenton & His Orchestra: Live at Redlands University [ST-1015; reissued on CD as GNP Crescendo GNPD-1015] to place Stan and the orchestra’s relationship to the Jazz education in a broader context.

At the conclusion of this piece, you can also view a video that employs an audio track consisting of Ken Hanna’s Tiare, from the Stan Kenton & His Orchestra: Live at Redlands University album. We picked this music because trombonist Dick Shearer is well-heard on it and we wanted to serve the memory of “Dickus” as we come to the end of our visit with Stan Kenton’s music.

For those who may not be aware, Kenton’s library of arrangements was bequeath to the University of North Texas [Denton., TX] where the legacy of Kenton’s orchestral Jazz continues to be honored by the many fine bands comprised of the students at the university and their teachers.

© -Stan Kenton/Creative World Records, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


“This two-record album was recorded live at a special concert at Redlands University under the most unique circumstances. Unique because the audience consisted of student musicians, music educators and the teach­ing staff which had gathered for this year's week of "Kenton Clinics."

Due to its deep involvement with the study of Jazz, the audience proved to be not only sensitively perceptive to the music played but very critical of how it was per­formed by the Kenton Orchestra. This challenge, from student to professional musician, fanned itself to burning excitement as the band outdid itself to provide total communication with this select audience.

Many of the selections were recorded at the request of the many Kenton fans who had heard them played at concerts while the band was on tour. Four have never been recorded by anyone as they were written especially for the Kenton Orchestra. The recordings on this concert album are vivid, exciting testimony to the total communi­cation which took place at Redlands University between music students, educators and the Stan Kenton Orchestra, who firmly established itself as their "Jazz Orchestra In Residence."

'The Jazz Orchestra In Residence" concept evolved from the many fruitful and informative years of the "Kenton Clinics." This new idea places the full Kenton Orchestra in a college or university for three days to a week where they work in conjunction with the music and humanities departments as a closely related and integrated extension of both. By exposing the students to the professional standards of actual performing dem­onstrations, the band creates exciting examples that establish goals for the young musicians to pursue.

The "Jazz Orchestra In Residence" program is com­posed of highly intense sessions which cover all perti­nent aspects of Jazz in order to provide the student with a further well-rounded, all encompassing knowledge of music. Courses include Jazz Improvisation, Composition and Arranging, and Instrumental Clinics, in which the solutions to problems most often encountered with the various instruments are discussed and examined. Two of the many related lectures include "Jazz and the Humanities" and "Jazz, The Extension to the Formal Study of Music."

As an adjunct, Kenton has produced two color films on Jazz: 'The Substance of Jazz," which describes how and why Jazz is so different from all other musical forms and "The Crusade for Jazz," a one-hour documentary which takes the viewer on an intimate road trip by bus with the band, where they are confronted with the dis­comfort of living out of a suitcase for three months, the one night stands and eating on the run; but most of all, the viewer feels all the excitement generated by each member of the band just before curtain time, and the deep sense of personal involvement each one has with the band and the music they love to play anywhere: Jazz.

During the "Jazz Orchestra In Residence" the musi­cians carefully nurture each student's particular prob­lem until finally, at week's end, a new awareness has taken place within these youngsters; an awareness that has them reaching notes they couldn't have imagined earlier, playing complex arrangements and even writ­ing an original score for the Kenton band to play and comment on. Most important, they have developed a sensitive understanding, not just for music and their own ability, but for the innovative and deeply personal excite­ment of Jazz.

The pictures point out the intense interest and serious­ness of the students. Their enthusiasm became so boundless that even while eating, the discussion was Jazz and their own expanding musical horizons. The "Creative World of Stan Kenton" has been closely asso­ciated with university music education for many years by furnishing professional orchestrations for the student musician. The "Jazz Orchestra In Residence" concept now provides the serious student the opportunity of working with the professional musician who plays these intricate scores in front of thousands of Jazz fans in con­cert halls and night clubs throughout the country.

This concept is proving so successful that the Kenton Orchestra is making plans to expand these three day to a week appearances greatly during their normal concert tour as extensions to regular music department curricula.

Redlands University's "Jazz Orchestra In Residence" has worked. It is already turning out musicians today who will soon become the Jazz innovators and teachers of tomorrow.”

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pub Crawling with Jimmy Deuchar and The Lads [From the Archives]

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“[Jimmy Deuchar] …the great Scot, whose sound sometimes seemed like a hybrid of Bunny Berigan and Fats Navarro, and who is usually recognizable within a few bars - taut, hot, but capable of bursts of great lyricism.”
- Richard Cook and Brian Morton The Penguin Guide to jazz on CD, 6th Ed

"If the Union problem didn't exist, I'd take Jimmy Deuchar back to California with me tomorrow. He's one of the finest trumpeters I've ever heard; and his all-round musicianship is fantastic." That's what American pianist-arranger-composer Marty Paich told me during a Deuchar disc date when Marty was in London in 1956.
- Tony Hall, insert notes, Jimmy Deuchar: Opus de Funk [Jasmine JASCD 621]

“[Starting with his recordings in the early 1950’s with Victor Feldman’s All-Stars, Arnold Ross’ Sextet and Johnny Dankworth’s Septet], … the bright burnished sound of Jimmy Deuchar was already showing its individuality within the parameters of modern Jazz trumpet.”
- Brian Davis, insert notes, Bop in Britain [Jasmine JASCD 637-38]

Although it took me a while to grasp how far-flung its influence was, culturally, one of the USA’s greatest gifts to the world is Jazz in all its manifestations.

In retrospect, I became aware that through Willis Conover’s Voice-of-America [a friend's Dad was into short wave radio broadcasts] and a variety of European-based radio broadcasts, exported US records and vibrant domestic recording labels in a host of European countries and the efforts of visiting or expatriate Jazz musicians, Jazz thrived in far-flung places like Great Britain, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Japan.

And where it wasn’t allow to flourish openly, a serious Jazz underground following developed in central Europe and The Soviet Union.

Thanks to many generous urbane and cosmopolitan friends, then and now, my awareness of Jazz on the international scene has grown over the years much to my satisfaction and enjoyment.

My first exposure to Jazz abroad were a series of Jazz in Britain recordings that Lester Koenig released on Contemporary Records, a Hollywood, California based label whose “corporate offices” and “recording studios” were conveniently located about 10 miles from where I went to high school.

Lester’s “corporate offices” consisted of a small storefront near Paramount Movie Studios on Melrose Avenue and his “recording studio” was sometimes set up in the back room where he packed and shipped his LP’s.

Lester’s “British Jazz” LP’s were actually re-issues of recordings that had originally been produced for London-based labels such as Tempo and Jasmine. [Essentially, Lester was reversing the process and “importing” Jazz back into the United States!]

One of these was the late drummer-vibraphonist-pianist Victor Feldman’s Suite Sixteen [Contemporary C-3541;OJCCD-1768-2].  Issued in 1958, this LP was comprised of quartet, septet and big band recordings that Victor had made in England in 1955 before taking up residence in the USA the following year.

This album was my first introduction to Brits or, if you will, the “Lads,” in modern-day parlance, such as trumpeter Dizzy Reece, trombonist and bass trumpeter, Ken Wray alto saxophonist Derek Humble, tenor saxophonists Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes, bassist Lennie Bush and drummers Tony Crombie and Phil Seaman.

Although he only solos on three of the albums nine tracks, the player who impressed me the most on Victor’s Suite Sixteen was trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar [pronounced “dew-car”].

Imagine my delight then when Lester Koenig did it again, this time with six tracks by “the young Scotsman,” entitled Pub Crawling with Jimmy Deuchar [Contemporary C-3529].  I gather that the idea for the album’s title comes from the fact that each of its six tracks is named after one of the best known British brands of beer.

The album was also released in the USA in 1958 and if I heard a glimmer of something earlier in Jimmy’s playing, the work of “this exceptional young, Scottish trumpeter-arranger-composer” comes bursting through on these sides.

In addition to his brilliant solo stylings, Pub Crawling with Jimmy Deuchar also introduces Jimmy as an extremely talented composer-arranger who writes in a style that is very reminiscent of the late Tadd Dameron.

Fortunately, I was later able to cobble together more of Jimmy’s recordings when they were issued on CD including Showcase [Jasmine JASCD 616], Opus de Funk [Jasmine JASCD 621] and Pal Jimmy [Jasmine JASCD 624].

On hand on these discs is lots more of the fine playing of Wray, Humble, Hayes, Scott, Bush, Seaman and Crombie along with some players on the British Jazz scene who were unfamiliar to me at the time including pianists Terry Shannon, Stan Tracey, Eddie Harvey and Harry South, bassist Sammy Stokes and drummer Alan Ganley.

Of these recording by Jimmy Deuchar and his mates … err, “Lads,” Richard Cook and Brian Morton have written in The Penguin Guide to jazz on CD, 6th Ed.:

“These are welcome reminders of the great Scot, whose sound sometimes seemed like a hybrid of Bunny Berigan and Fats Navarro, and who is usually recognizable within a few bars - taut, hot, but capable of bursts of great lyricism.

Some of his best work is with Tubby Hayes, who himself pops up in various of these dates; but these precious survivals of the British scene of the '508 - which exist solely through the dedication and enthusiasm of Tony Hall, who oversaw all the sessions - are fine too. The first two discs are bothered by the boxy and inadequate sound (and the re-mastering, which may not be from the original tapes, is less than first class), but the playing is of a standard which may sur­prise those unfamiliar with this period of British jazz.

There are excellent contributions from Humble, Hayes, the very neglected Shannon and the redoubtable Seamen; but Deuchar, as is proper, takes the ear most readily: punchily conversational, sometimes overly clipped, but then throwing in a long, graceful line when you don't expect it, he was a distinctive stylist.

These sets are made up from EPs and ten-inch LPs, but the third reissues all of the splendid Pal Jimmy! plus a stray track from a compilation. The trumpeter's solo on the title-track blues is a classic statement. Again, less than ideal re-mastering, but with original vinyl copies of these extremely rare records costing a king's ransom, they're very welcome indeed.”

At the time of their initial release, the highly regarded Edgar Jackson had this to say in the October, 1955 British publication, The Melody Maker:

“One of the tracks on this record is probably not only the best example of British jazz in the modem manner ever to find its way on to a record but not so far short of one of the best from any­where.

The track is IPA Special (named, as are all the others, after a brand of beer.)

It shows that Jimmy Deuchar (who composed and arranged all of the tunes) is second to none in this country in the matter of thinking up and scoring out first-rate modern jazz material.

It shows also: (a) that Jimmy has become a better trumpet man than ever now that he is playing with a warmer feeling and tone, (b) that while Derek Humble may not yet be the world’s greatest baritone saxophonist, he is certainly a grand, driving altoist, (c) that Ken Wray is one of our most original and advanced trombonists, and (d) that British rhythm sections are not always as gauche and stodgy as they are often said to be.

The record as a whole, with Jimmy never failing to convince as a skillful and captivating writer, and Victor Feldman playing tasteful and delightful piano, is a relieving and refreshing indication that our best modern jazzmen can compete with the best anywhere else—when given a fair chance.

The recording itself is excellent.   But I would hardly have expected any­thing else, for the session engineer was Decca's brilliant Arthur Lilley.”

Jimmy’s solos shimmer in their vibrancy. Fats Navarro. Clifford Brown, Carmel Jones and a host of the trumpet soloists who display a fat, full, fiery sound in their phrasing come to mind, but Jimmy is his own man.

The construction of his improvised lines is marked by coherence and continuity, but most of all, by originality. You just don’t hear other trumpeters playing Jimmy’s stuff.

I was especially pleased to rediscover Jimmy’s powerhouse trumpet playing on many of the Clarke Boland Big Band [CBBB] recordings from the 1960s.

According to tenor saxophonist Ronnie Scott [who would later join the CBBB]: “Derek Humble was the navigator-in-chief on the band and one of his first recommendations to Kenny Clarke and Francy Boland was to bring Jimmy Deuchar on the band to play the Jazz trumpet chair.”

As Mike Hennessey noted in his chapter on the CBBB from his biography of drummer Kenny Clarke: “Seven of the thirteen musicians in the band were European and their ability to hold their own with their [expatriate] American colleagues did no damage at all to the cause of winning a just measure of appreciation and recognition for some of the excellent European Jazz musicians who were emerging.” [pp. 165-166]

If you have not had the pleasure of having heard Jimmy Deuchar, his playing and that of the Lads – Ken Wray [bass trumpet], Derek Humble [as], Tubby Hayes [ts], Victor Feldman [p], Lennie Bush [b] and Phil Seamen [d] - is on display on the following tribute. The tune is Jimmy’s Treble Gold, which is named after an ale that I understand it is no longer made by the Friary Meux Brewery in Guildford.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lambert Hendricks and Ross: Everybody's LHR [From the Archives]

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

It never ceased to amaze me then - and it continues to amaze me now - how many people, who know very little, if nothing, about Jazz are familiar with the vocal group -  Lambert Hendricks Ross.

Either they or their college roommate had one of LHR’s albums, or their parents had all of the albums or they just memorized some of the vocalese lyrics that Jon Hendricks wrote for the group so that they could sound hip and cool to their friends.

The latter skill is particularly remarkable when you consider that Jon wrote these hip lyrics to accompany the actual Jazz solos that were played on certain classic Jazz recordings and did not base them on the melodies of these songs.

In essence, people who couldn’t put two notes together were able to sing some of the hippest Jazz solos ever recorded thanks to their admiration for Jon’s skills with vocalese, which considering the level of humor, wit and sage philosophy that he brought to the form, he practically re-invented.

The group was only together for a few years and recorded relatively few albums, but when you consider the vocal talent on display and the brilliant lyrics which were applied to some of the most memorable solos ever recorded, there is nothing else like LHR in the history of Jazz.

And while I was familiar with Dave Lambert and Annie Ross as individual vocalists I knew virtually nothing about Jon Hendricks or how LHR came into existence, that is, until the September 1959 edition of Down beat magazine arrived in my mailbox and I found this article by Gene Lees.

It features Jon’s history of the LHR using the too-hip-for-the-room style that he employs in his rhyming vocalese lyrics.

© -  Gene Lees, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“EDITORS NOTE – In the wee small hours of a morning at Newport this year [1959], I told Jon Hendricks that DownBeat would like to do a story on the LHR group. "Why not let me write it?" Jon said. I hedged and hesitated for a moment (perhaps Jon will remember it) and then began running some of his remarkable LHR lyrics over in my mind. "OK," I said.

We kicked the idea around a bit, notably backstage at Chicago's Regal The­ater, and I learned that Jon was thinking of doing the article in rhyme, no less. I shook my head a bit, reassured myself that his tremendous taste and talent would not fail, even in the unfamiliar task of writing an article, swallowed hard and said: "Wild."

Jon telephoned from time to time as he worked on the article. I began to get nerv­ous. Deadline was approaching, and I had already scheduled the cover photo to go with the article. "You have to promise me you won't change a thing," Jon said. That made me more nervous.

When the piece at last arrived—right on deadline—I scanned it, still nervously at first, then less nervously, and finally, jubi­lantly. It was—and is—one of the strangest articles I've ever read. As promised, it rhymed. Not unexpectedly, it sounded like an LHR lyric without the music. It also had in places the delightful flavor of an Ogden Nash poem. And finally, I guessed that some astute reader would look at its last line and think of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake.

Jon didn't say this in the article, but he has done a lot of thinking about the possi­bilities of true jazz opera. The article tends to validate his theory that it can—and should—be done.

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross is one of the most remarkable groups in jazz today. With their vocals on famous instru­mental numbers, they have broken up audiences at every jazz festival they have played this summer—and they have played most of them, with more yet to come, including Monterey. Where their jazz-vocals experiment will lead is something no one, including Jon, pretends to be able to predict with certainty. All that anyone knows for sure is that their popularity is huge and growing, that they deserve it and that the end is not in sight.

In the meantime, here is Jon Hen­dricks' story on LHR. As Dave Lambert said to me, explaining why when he worked on construction he liked to use jackhammers, "I dug it." I hope you will, too. —Ed.”

© -  Jon Hendricks, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“As to dates, times, names and places,

My accuracy ain't apt to be too outstand­ing. Data's too demanding. I haven't the faintest idea on what date Dave Lambert's birthday occurs, and experience with women and the subject of age gives me bet­ter sense than to ask Annie Ross hers, so, on biographical data I won't be too factual. However, on matters of the heart and soul I hope to be very actual, 'cause if you're gonna know how Dave Lambert, Annie Ross and I have such a collective ball while singing our individual parts, you'll have to know that it comes from what we fondly recall, and what is in our hearts.

Some people say our name is a clumsy name for a singing group to be stuck with. They compare it to Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith, an overstatement, by far. Actually we call ourselves Lambert, Hendricks and Ross for no other reason than that's who we are! And so that your understanding of our name will gain even more clearance, if you dig what I mean, our name describes the order of our appearance on the scene.

Dave Lambert, ex-everything under the sun and musical truth-seeker, came home from high school in New England one day, heard a Count Basie record on an out­side downtown radio-shop-loudspeaker on the way, and the amazement that there could be such a feelin' never left him after that. When I engaged Dave to do the vocal adaptation of Jimmy Giuffre's "Four Broth­ers" arrangement, he bent my ear about doing a lyricised Basie album in nothin' flat! While we were rehearsing "Four Brothers," or listening to what each other was sayin', Dave made sure some Basie records were playin'. He'd play the old things most, the "good ol' ones" we both grew up listening to, and again we heard the marvel of them all. In this era of "conservatories," we heard the old Basie band full of natural musicians from their heart play more jazz than any­body we've ever heard, no matter how smart. And nary one of 'em knew what the inside of a music school looked like. They just played and had a ball.

Finally I got Dave's subtle message (as subtle as a ton of coal on the head) and stopped listening casually and got t' writ­ing lyrics instead. I soon had words to "Down for the Count" and "Blues Back­stage" and Dave adapted Frank Foster's arrangements for voices, then we started making choices of recording company A&R men. (Means "artist and repertory" and they're to blame if the recording out­put sounds a bit gory. Their judgment of a “hit” often depends on how much a new tune sounds like the last “hit.” They often are unable to see any future in a tune because of a single-minded preoccupation with a past hit!)

Creed Taylor of ABC-Paramount is a rarity among his kind. He has his own taste and uses his own mind. I’m happy to state.

During the time we were working on Sing A Song of Basie for Creed, I lived and wrote in Greenwich Village, which I had always thought of in an artistic way, but which I found retaining only an artistic façade, masking pseudo-intellectual morbidness ‘midst moral decay.  It may be a good place to stay up late in, but its new, thrill-seeking Freud-spouting population has rendered it no longer a desirable place to create in. (Don’t blame DownBeat, this is my personal contention—just a little something I thought I'd mention.)

For our first date, Dave contracted 12 experienced singers he had known and used before as the Dave Lambert Singers, some of whom worked on such programs as The Perry Como Show and Your Hit Parade, and who had reputations some­thing fierce. We also had the Basie rhythm section, Freddy Greene, Sonny Payne and Eddie Jones, with Nat Pierce.

It was during this first date that the spiritual quality that is in all jazz, and prominently so in Basie, made itself mani­fest; that spiritual quality we—and Ray Charles—got in church, and got so West Coast cool we left in the lurch and got back to for 30 pieces of Horace Silver, after a long, cold search.

Those singers had music and lyrics, but that spiritual quality was missing at the very first test, even though they tried their best. Eddie Jones saw and heard and laid his fiddle gently down and walked amongst them and talked to them and spread the word, and Sonny Payne and Nat Pierce did, too. Freddie sat placidly by and regarded it all with an ever-patient eye and didn't move to get his message through, just sat calm, like he usually do. What Eddie Jones told those singers about "layin' back, but not slowin' down" was beautifully true, but when all the gentle urging was done there was no concealing that those well-trained singers still couldn't sing Basie with that spiritual feeling— except one—a silent, beautiful red-haired girl Dave had introduced me to several days before at Bob Bach's house in Wash­ington Mews, a name I remembered from then-current theatrical news as starring in an imported-from-London Broadway review called Cranks. But I remembered more; five years or so earlier than then—a Prestige record given me by Teacho Wilt­shire, who recorded "Four Brothers" vocal­ly first, a record of a vocal version of Wardell Gray's "Twisted," excellent lyric by Annie Ross—better than good—boss!

Yes, Annie Ross has that feeling, that feeling you can't learn in no school, that feel­ing that the men in the old Basie band had from birth and got together in nightclubs and tent shows. And don't get the idea schools, to them, are unknown, 'cause those men started a few schools of their own! Pick a tenor player at random and, no matter what he says, chances are, at one time or another he studied under Pres. And make no bones about it—Jo Jones invented the sock cymbal, and don't ever doubt about it.

Philly Joe know.

And every trumpet player ever plays through a "bucket" mute oughta know that Buck Clayton's real nickname ain't Buck—it's "Bucket!" (Ain't that cute.)

At any rate, the first Sing a Song of Basie was scrapped and, thanks to Creed Taylor, we got another chance—but what to do? Dave Lambert knew. Dave has a tal­ent for putting very large possibilities into a very few words. "Annie feels it," he said. "Let's you, me 'n Annie do it." Coming from anyone else I'd have thought such an idea was for the birds, because of the hard work entailed, but I soon saw the beauty of Dave's suggestion, especially if we all three really wailed.

From the time we started out, Annie knew what she was about. She did every­thing with ease and a naturalness found only in great artists, I guess. Annie Ross is more than just a singer, to say the least. She is an artiste. Every night, on "Avenue C," she stands up there between Dave and me and hits that last note, F above high C, as though it were any note—and it might as well be! I remember when Dave asked her if she could make that note and she said, "No, never," so Dave said he'd change it, winked at me and left it like it was, and Annie sings it like she's been singing it forever.

So we did Sing a Song of Basie alone, Dave, Annie, the Basie rhythm section with Nat Pierce, and me, and the rest is known. When people would congratulate us on our artistic success, it got to be an un­funny joke, cause Dave and I stayed broke. Annie was straight. She was singing on the Patrice Munsel Show, which is like a per­manent record date. Then, one day at Dave's house, I saw the strangest sight I've ever seen: Sing a Song of Basie showed up in DownBeat as number thirteen! So Dave and I decided to see if we could get some gigs—just local. We envisioned nothing on a grand scale for an act so unusually vocal. Annie was in Europe then, sendin' mes­sages that everything was dandy, so 'til Annie got back we worked with Flo Handy, wife of George Handy and singer of great skill, and the Great South Bay Jazz Festival put us on last year's bill.

Later, the MJQ's manager, Monte Kay, set us up an audition with Willard Alexan­der one day. Willard got so excited he made us wonder what we had! We weren't all that sure it was good, but when you knock somebody out like Willard Alexander, you know it ain't all bad. Annie came back from Europe and joined Dave and me, and Willard signed us immediately.

As to how Basie feels about us, that'll be easy to understand, 'cause he invited us to do an album with his band, yet! (Sing Along with Basie, on Roulette.) Our cur­rent album, to be specific, is The Swingers on Dick Bock's World Pacific, with Zoot Sims, Russ Freeman and Basie's steady three men, Eddie Jones, Sonny Payne and Freddie Greene, the finest rhythm section anybody's ever seen.

We've just been honored by being asked to sign with Columbia Records, under the aegis of Mr. Irving Townsend. "Moanin'," by the pianist with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Bobby Timmons, and "Cloudburst," a Sam-the-Man Taylor saxophone solo, are about ready for single release, and there's an album of Ellingtonia in the works, so who knows where it will cease?

My brother, Jim Hendricks, manages to manage us—an unmanageable task, and as for how we feel about what's happened to us—need you ask? How far Lambert, Hendricks and Ross will go is something I don't pretend to know, but, since I write a lot of the words we sing, I can tell you what message I'll bring: that opera houses dedi­cated to European musical culture are not the American norm. Jazz is America's cul­tural art form. To say that our opera hous­es are the Chicago, the San Francisco and the Metropolitan just doesn't follow. Amer­ica's real opera houses—as one day, pray, the American people may realize—are the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C., the Regal Theater in Chicago and Harlem's Apollo. And our divas are not singers of the kind of music Europe has, but Billie, and Ella, and Sarah, and they sing jazz!

We are honored anew every time a jazz musician compliments us, because we know they know what it's all about, but to have three great jazz musicians accompany us is something about which to shout. We have the Ike Isaacs Trio—Gildo Mahones, piano; Kahlil Madi, drums; and Ike on bass—and we hope to take them with us every place.

As for me—I'm the ninth child and the seventh son of Rev. and Mrs. A.B. Hen­dricks. I have eleven brothers and three sis­ters, all reared in the African Episcopal Church around ToledoOhio. All other data can be found in my bio. My musical educa­tion consisted of singing Negro spirituals and hymns with my mother in church, singing in bars and grills for whatever people threw me, which, praise be, was never out, singing in nightclubs at thirteen (they used to bill me as "The Sepia Bobby Breen!"), accompanied for one magical spell by a local pianist whose family were our neighbors, whom we knew well—Art Tatum, who started on the violin, but sat down to the piano and never got up again. I was fortunate enough to have learned to lis­ten to him early and I'm glad I paid heed, 'cause I never did learn how to read.

When Bird came through Toledo one night with Max, Tommy Potter (now with "Sweets"), Kenny Dorham and Al Haig to play a dance, I got a long-awaited, unex­pected chance to scat a few choruses, after which, while Kenny Dorham blew, I start­ed to split, but Bird motioned me to Kenny's chair next to him and said, with that warm smile, "Sit awhile." I ended up scatting the whole set, and before they left, Bird said, "Look me up when you get to New York. Don't forget."

It was two years later when I got to New York. Bird was playing at the Apollo Bar uptown, and I got up there fast as any­one can. And when I walked past the band­stand, Bird waved at me and spoke my name and thrilled me to kingdom come when he said, "Wanna' sing some?" and two years passed away as though it had been only one day! Roy Haynes was playing drums and I was a drummer (who had just put his drums in pawn), but when I heard Roy with Bird I said to myself, "That's it for my drumming. Them days is gone!"

I knew nothing about the New York scene except what I'd seen or heard, so I decided to judge everybody by "who stood up with Bird," or, if they didn't ever share the same bandstand, how did they stand with the man. Dave Lambert did "Old Folks" and "In the Still of the Night" with Bird, vocal arrangements by Dave, musical arrangements by Gil Evans, among the more beautiful things I've ever heard. Annie Ross sang with Bird a few times. The fact I'm trying not to keep it hid is that, at one time or another, all three of us did. It's a coincidence with a spiritual qual­ity I can't name, but Dave Lambert, Annie Ross and I came together naturally, just at the time when jazz began to receive wide public acclaim.

As a writer of words, this gives me a great responsibility, especially to American youth: Tell the truth! Interpret the compo­sitions and jazz composers, writing today, not three hundred years passed away. And the composers are numerous, most everybody playing, and all I have to do is tell the people what they’re saying.”

If your not familiar with Lambert Hendricks Ross, you’ll find the music on the following video tribute to them to be a real treat. If you already a fan, then you may enjoy reacquainting yourself with some old friends. The music of LHR is one of Jazz’s great gifts to the world. [Click on the ”X” to close out of the ads should they appear.]