Sunday, April 21, 2019

Slide Hampton: An Interview with Barbara Gardner

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

“LOCKSLEY WELLINGTON HAMPTON WAS 27 YEARS OLD when, in the autumn of 1959, he left Maynard Ferguson's orchestra where he had made his name as an extraordinary trombonist and composer/arranger to launch his own octet. A wonderfully rhythmic and unique arranger, Slide came up with an unusual instrumentation for the octet: two trumpets, two trombones, tenor sax, baritone sax, bass and drums.

The struggles of keeping this octet afloat proved too much; in a news item in the December 21, 1961 Down Beat, Jay Cameron bemoaned its financial woes. By 1963, it disbanded. Slide has continued to freelance as a trombonist and arranger. In 1968, he moved to Europe where he found more opportunities to write for large ensembles, but an assignment to do the charts for Dexter Gordon's Sophisticated Giant in 1977 enticed him back to the states. Since then, he has freelanced with the best of them and led his own World of Trombones (with nine trombonists!) and The Jazzmasters, a 12-piece outgrowth of the octet.”

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles couldn’t pass up an opportunity to welcome Barbara Gardner’s writing back to these pages, this time with a focus on Slide Hampton whose composing and arranging skills are a perfect complement to his abilities as a trombonist.

Whether writing for Maynard Ferguson’s big band, leading and composing for his own octet, or heading up his 12-piece group - The Jazz Masters - Slide’s swinging, straight-ahead approach to Jazz is always a pleasure to listen to and always full of surprises, too.

This Is Slide Hampton
By Barbara Gardner

“Locksley Wellington Hampton, with more than nine years of professional entertainment behind him, became a father in 1946. He conscientiously set about the business of supporting a wife and baby daughter through the only means available to him, playing the instrument his father's band needed most at the time, a trombone.

He didn't particularly like the instrument, but his father was in all ways The Leader so Locksley took up the horn. Someone in the family band— he doesn't remember who—began calling him Slide. So the Locksley Wellington was buried beneath two new titles, Slide and Daddy, by the time he was 15 years old.

The Hampton family was a large one, closely knit by blood, music, and a powerful father-mother theatrical team who incorporated each of their four daughters and five sons into the act almost as soon as the child could toddle.

"They started out with about eight pieces," Slide recalled, "but as the kids grew up, the band expanded. I was too young to play an instrument so I started as a song-and-dance attraction when I was about 5 or so."

Slide was the last child, and when he was 3, the family unit hit the circuit in earnest. He can't remember all the places he went in the next 11 years. He dismisses it by saying, "We moved around quite a bit."

The family paused momentarily around 1946 and set up stakes in Indianapolis, Ind., which is still considered the home base by the young trombonist, although he was born April 21, 1932, in Jeannett, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pa.

In 1950, the father began to tire, and the oldest son, Duke, assumed leadership of the band and kept it together until 1954. The elder Hampton had devoted his life to presenting his talent and that of his family in theaters; carnivals, and state, county, and national fairs throughout the country. In New York City, the group had performed at the Savoy, the Apollo, and Carnegie hall. His life line seemed to vibrate to the antics and entertainment of his children, Slide said. Less than one year after the family unit broke up, his father was dead.

New York jazz circles turned cold, clinical eyes on the Duke Hampton organization. The group returned to Indianapolis within four months. Slide joined Willis Jackson, returned to New York, and in his own words, "Starved there a couple of weeks."

Then as unexpectedly as problems had come, good fortune arrived. Hampton was hired successively by Buddy Johnson, Lionel Hampton, and Maynard Ferguson. With Ferguson, Slide suddenly was spotlighted and apparently earmarked for recognition as a jazz artist. Twenty-three years after he had entered show business, he began making his first important showing in two Down Beat polls. Somewhat ironically, in the International Jazz Critics poll, the veteran received his heaviest votes in the new star category.

In 1960, he formed his own band and began making a serious bid for recognition as a top jazz artist. The current octet has been together for almost a year, playing most of its dates in and around New York.

"Over the years, I have listened to a number of bands of different sizes that I liked," Hampton said. "I suppose the Miles Davis Octet was a great influence on the type of sound I would like to hear in my own group. With this group, I tried to get an instrumentation which would be between all the other sizes and yet get a little of each of these sounds. I can get a smaller sound by simply cutting the instrumentation; also I can get a big-band sound because of the instrumentation. Actually, I just extracted instruments which are less percussive or loud, and put in more hard brass and less reeds."

Hampton is reluctant to allow his band to become typed as simply brassy.
"Brassy is only one of the sounds I want," he maintained. "I want the band to be able to play at double forte, very loud. But I also want it to play just as soft so that the contrast will be really a contrast."

Running ahead of the group every place it appears is the remark that the octet is a   cut-down version of Ferguson's big band. Hampton takes no offense at such observations.

"There is merit in that statement," he admitted. "What people are thinking about really are my arrangements for both groups. Naturally, the flavor is going to be similar."

Hampton said he feels that he does his best writing and arranging for this size of unit. Yet, he is beginning to seek new horizons.

"After writing for this band for a year now," he said, "I begin to imagine other combinations. I think I would like first a piano player who can double on another instrument. Then I would like to add an alto saxophonist who can also handle woodwinds, particularly the flute. Also I'd like to put in a tuba for depth and body to the section. And, of course, I could use another trumpet and another trombone — but my, my, all that is so far away."

Meanwhile, he continues to write and draw writing inspiration from Duke Ellington and Gil Evans. He acknowledges no trombone influences, crediting saxophonists Charlie Parker and John Coltrane as his primary instrumental images.

"As much as I love the way J. J. and a few others play," he said, "the trombone is such a slow instrument, I would rather not try to pattern myself too much from guys who play the instrument, because it holds them back, and it would hold me back, also.

"The technique and the literature for the instrument are very slow compared with other instruments; consequently,I would rather listen to a horn which has more to offer."

In spite of his great musical dedication or perhaps because of it, Hampton looked realistically at the going style of today. In fact, he leaped right in, and a hit Gospel-flavored, jazz frame was the commercial springboard for getting his group heard and booked.

"While I am a musician, I am also a businessman," he said candidly. "I realize that in order for the orchestra to eventually play what I want it to play, I have to please the public as much as I can. I must admit that our hit tune, Sister Salvation, was written primarily for that purpose. It's a pretty good tune though and the fellows are still free to play whatever they like in their solos, but the main theme was written to catch the public's ear."

He said he sees no danger of his becoming entrenched in a commercial vise.

"In the first place, this music isn't so far removed from jazz that it can become a permanent handicap," he said. "Another thing is, just as the public went for that, they'll go for some other kind of music if it's presented right. As a writer-composer, if I spend enough time and energy trying to find something new to write, I might come up with something worthwhile that the public will like just as well."

The slightly built dynamo, at work on the stand, is convincing as a man who wants to "make people happy," and a listener is impressed with his complete immersion in his work to that end. He seems to surrender to the mood and play and direct the group with a physical abandonment that reflects his showmanship days. The soft-spoken trombonist reveals in conversation an intelligence that belies his lack of high school education, and he radiates a fire of determination that defies quenching.

Locksley Hampton, husband and father of one daughter, 13, and three sons, 10, 8, and 3, must necessarily be subservient to Slide Hampton, traveling jazz artist, for Hampton acknowledges, as do many traveling musicians, that the road bug is almost impossible to beat.

"If your wife loves you, being away from home is not going to change that," he said. "I don't say that it makes her grow any fonder of you, but if she's sincere and understands what you're trying to do, being away won't make any difference." His eyes twinkled, and he added, "Of course, you have to be just as sincere in being away from home. You can't just be 'being away from home' because you want to be away . . ." He laughed. Then he summarized his philosophy on music:

"I guess it's pretty true that a traveling man can never really become rooted. I know I have no great desire to stay in one place. The traveling part alone doesn't really interest or excite me. I just don't want to stand still in whatever I'm doing. So if it happens that whatever I'm doing has to be done or can be done better somewhere else, then, I'm sorry, but that's where I go.”

January 19, 1961
Down Beat

The following video features Slide’s octet version of Monk’s Well You Needn’t.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Enigma of Miles Davis - Barbara J. Gardner

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

This features continues the theme of our recent postings about Miles Davis’ career after he made the move to Columbia Records in 1955 and returns to the JazzProfiles continuing emphasis on the work of Jazz writers.

This is our first feature devoted to the work of Barbara J. Gardner, a talented writer who was based in Chicago and who for over ten years was a contributing editor to Down Beat.

In addition to the lengthy work on Miles that follows and which appeared in the January 7, 1960 edition of that magazine, she also wrote profiles on Joe Williams and Abbey Lincoln for Down Beat.  Other examples of her writing can be found on VeeJay Records, a Jazz label based in The Windy City, for which she contributed liner notes for some of its LP’s, including Wayne Shorter’s earliest recordings as a leader.

“There is no room for the middle stance. You choose up sides, and you play on your team. He is either the greatest living musician or he is just a cool hopper. He is handsome and a wonderful individual or he is ugly and a drag. His trumpet prowess is getting greater every day or his scope is becoming more and more limited.

Any current jazz discussion can be enlivened simply by dropping in the magic name — Miles Davis.

Yet these arguments can be mystifying in the frequency with which the opponents switch positions. A musician in a conversation with fellow workers is likely to blast Davis. The same musician discussing Miles with his dinner host and hostess may change tunes in the middle of the chorus and sing nothing but the highest praise for the trumpeter.

Unaware of the chain of events they were beginning, Dr. and Mrs. Miles Davis, on May 25, 1926, named their first son Miles Dewey. Miles, his parents and an older sister, Dorothy, moved from Alton, IL to East St. Louis, IL in 1927. There, Miles' brother Vernon was born. The first 12 years included all the usual brother-sister squabbles. Yet, though there were normal childhood frictions, Miles was gregarious, amiable, and had many friends.

Musically, his career began uneventfully on his 13th birthday when his father gave him a trumpet. Only his immediate attraction and dedication to the horn gave an indication of the mastery of the instrument he would later achieve. Even his family admits that in the beginning, the growing pains were considerable and Miles was no instant threat to any trumpet player.

"We still have a record packed away someplace that he cut with some rhythm and blues outfit," his sister recalled. "He was pretty awful. They don't even mention his name."

But the woodshed was nearby, and Miles used it.

By the time Billy Eckstine brought his big band through East St. Louis in the early 1940s, the worst was over. Dizzy Gillespie and Eckstine convinced both Miles and his father that the quiet, reserved youngster should continue to study music. While the band was in town, Miles had the exciting experience of sitting in. He was so awe-stricken by Charlie Parker and Gillespie that he could hardly play.

Miles pulled up stakes in 1945 and at 19 made the trek to New York City, where he enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music to concentrate on theory and harmony. At this time, the idol of the jazz world was Charlie Parker. Miles, too, was under the spell. He spent his entire bankroll searching the clubs and hangouts, trying to find Bird.

While his relationship with Parker, Eckstine, and Gillespie had been discomforting for him in East St. Louis, it was not nearly so overwhelming as being surrounded by the giants who inhabited 52nd St. in the mid-'40s.

The same Dizzy who had invited him to sit in with the band in East St. Louis, who had encouraged him to come to New. York and study trumpet, now sternly advised the newcomer to study piano so that he might learn how to build an effective solo.

The helpful and understanding Bird, who advised him to leave the woodshed and break into his own with the public, was making such departures in improvisation, rhythm, and harmony that Miles was bewildered. It was no wonder that the frustrated neophyte, just in his 20s, would quit every night. Fortunately, he returned every day.

He underwent the usual influences. His first idol had been Roy Eldridge, a musician whose influence spreads throughout the contemporary trumpet tradition. Once having heard Gillespie, however, Miles decided to draw from this man his major inspiration. For a while there was a period of complete absorption, and Miles Davis seemed destined to become a second Dizzy Gillespie.

But by 1947, Davis had filtered from the Gillespie-ish playing all that was not natural to himself.

During that two-year period, he had worked with Parker, Eckstine, Benny Carter, and Coleman Hawkins. He had so impressed the listening jazz public that he was voted Esquire new trumpet star of 1947.

Davis made his debut as leader in 1948. The first small group was replaced within months by a nine-piece unit whose exceptionally high musical caliber was captured on records. These celebrated 1949 recordings featured Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, J. J. Johnson, Max Roach, Kai Winding, and Kenny Clarke. Musical pre-eminence, however, was not enough to salvage this experimental group. The gig folded after two historic weeks, and the group disbanded, its members spreading their messages on separate paths.

Davis went to Europe. In 1949, France got its first glimpse of 52nd St.'s new trumpet star. He played the Paris Jazz festival.

But when he returned to New York, Miles passed into comparative musical
obscurity. For a while illness plagued him, financial difficulties mounted, and musical appreciation and satisfaction made a sharp and rapid decline. This bleak pattern was brightened only by three noteworthy events: he won the Metronome readers poll each year from 1951 to '53; he made the Jazz, Inc., tour in 1952, and, above all, the musicians were still listening, learning, even copying.

It is this last fact that perhaps is most significant. It is the thing that, more than any other, explains the sudden reappearance and pervading eminence of the forgotten patriarch.

In 1957, there had come to be established a new sound in jazz, a new school of trumpeters, a new concept in communication in music. People began listening for the familiar characteristics and searching for their source. Re-enter Miles Davis, rediscovered, new star.

After throat surgery in 1957, Davis captured every coveted trumpet award in the United States and Europe. Readers of Holland's Muziek Express, Hamburg's Jazz, Echo, Paris' Jazz Hot, London's Melody Maker, all awarded Miles first or second place on trumpet in 1958 or 1959. In the United States, he has been voted outstanding trumpet star by Metronome readers and has won the Down Beat Readers Poll Award every year since 1954, excepting 1956, when he placed a close second behind his former mentor, Dizzy Gillespie.

As Davis now stands at the pinnacle of his musical career, he stands simultaneously at the nadir of sociability.

Ask any jazz fan who Miles Davis is. Most will say, "He's a fink, but he sure can play." Ask any club owner where he has worked. Most will say, "He's a headache, but the customers flock to hear him." Ask any musician. He probably will say, "He's an evil little bastard, but he certainly can play." In other words, two points seem glaringly in evidence — Miles is a difficult person to deal with, and Miles can play his instrument. Among his closest friends, and he has many, it is the consensus that Miles carefully cultivates both contentions.

The major accusation levied at him is indifference toward and lack of consideration for the audience.

Wearing what the well-dressed man will wear next year, Miles saunters diffidently onstage. Usually squinting through smoke from his cigaret, he briefly surveys his audience, chats momentarily with his sidemen, and idly fingers his horn. Snapping off the beat, he assumes his characteristic stance, drawing the muted trumpet inward. He shoves the mute tight against the microphone and breathes out the notes, placing each sound just where he wants it. He hovers there for several choruses, then drops his horn, and casually ambles away, off the stage sometimes, out of the room . . .

"No stage presence!" the customer will exclaim.

The appearance is certainly that he disinvolved himself from activities on the stand. But musicians who work with him deny this emphatically. The wily trumpeter is able to dissect every tune played during the set. Each musician's work is analyzed at the next rehearsal.

Why Davis chooses to wander about while the rest of the group plays is still as much a mystery as it was when he began doing it 10 years ago. It is by no means a newly acquired habit. Miles has never attempted to be a crowd pleaser, although these very eccentricities serve almost to transform him into a showman whose behavior, though often resented, is nearly as much a part of his audience appeal as his musical performance.

The quality of music that is presented is the major concern with Davis, and neither money nor threats can force him to compromise on this point.

During the spring of 1959 the Miles Davis Sextet, featuring John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, was contracted to play a Milwaukee nightclub. Adderley was hospitalized a few days before the opening. Davis agreed to go with the rhythm section and Coltrane. On the morning the five men were to leave New York, Coltrane contracted a virus infection and could not leave. The club owner insisted that Davis keep the engagement. Davis said, "No." The owner threatened to sue. Miles used his favorite unprintable epithet. The club owner sued — but Miles did not play the date.

There are few persons more noted for the use of flat, bald definitives than Davis.

Only an inconspicuous withdrawal or reversal of a celebrated position will belie the assertiveness of his original proclamation. "I shall never work here again" was hardly dry on the printed page before he was back at work in the same club.

Among his most flagrant asserted positions is dislike for the ofay. This generalized overt exhibition of racial prejudice, however, has been undermined in practice throughout the entire pattern of his adulthood.

Since 1948, when he formed his first group, Davis has hired competent musicians regardless of race. Among his closest associates are white politicians, actors, actresses, musicians, and citizens of many countries and many walks of life. He is no embittered hothead on this issue. His attitude has been arrived at because he has endured a series of cold, degrading, and demoralizing experiences.

An instance: arriving in Chicago during the summer of 1959, Davis rolled his imported Ferrari into a motel on Lake Michigan's shore only to be told there was a mix-up in the reservations. Sorry. Jazz great or not, there was no room available.

His refusal to accept publicly a poll award from a national men's magazine was prompted by his dissatisfaction with the discriminatory policies of the publication. Davis talked, as well as corresponded, with the publisher, explaining why he could not, in good faith, accept any commendation from the publication. In spite of the best efforts of the publisher, he has been unable to sway Davis' attitude.

This adherence to principle runs through his relationships. Once he has made up his mind, and cast his lot, he is more than reluctant to change his position. This is especially true regarding sidemen working with him. Both his present pianist and his drummer went through periods during which Miles had to adjust to and acquaint himself with their styles of playing.

"Miles thinks there is only one drummer in the entire world," a musician said at the beginning of 1959, "and that one is Philly Joe Jones." Miles seemed to give credence to this idea long after Jones had been replaced by Jimmy Cobb. Several times, he recorded only when he was able to secure Jones as his drummer. Gradually, this attitude began to fade, and Cobb at last was free to function without the ghostly sizzle of his predecessor behind him. Several months ago, questioned about Miles' affinity to Philly Joe, the same musician expressed amazement. "Well, Miles has that clean-cut Jimmy Cobb sound in his ear now," he said.

The exact pattern was followed when pianist Wynton Kelly replaced Red Garland. For months Miles was attuned to the blockish Garland swing, and he couldn't hear it in the melodic, stylish Kelly. But, sticking by their personal styles, and drawing from Miles' subtle hints in technique and execution, Kelly and Cobb came to be highly regarded by their employer.

Davis' ability to pick top musicians as sidemen is unerring, and the influence he wields over their musical expression is almost phenomenal. Sometimes by subtle suggestion, at times by brutal frankness, Miles whips a musical unit into a cohesive, tight-knit, power-generating single voice.

Not only does he usually walk away with top trumpet honors in trade polls, but like a powerful politician, he carries the ticket, and individual members of his group wind up well inside the first 10 of their categories.

This has been referred to as the "Miles magic." What are some of the elements that form the man and the magician in this trumpeter?

There is an undercurrent of loyalty and dedication to conviction that runs well hidden beneath a temperamental guise. Examples of his generosity and loyalty are described throughout the industry.

Earlier this year in Chicago, a man wielding a knife appeared backstage and began threatening the trumpeter. A prominent New York musician — unexpectedly out of work, down on his luck, and hung up in Chicago — was nearby. Seeing the man with the knife move in on Miles, the New Yorker knocked him cold with an uppercut.

Miles walked calmly away without saying so much us "thank you." Some bystanders were annoyed. Wasn't this more than adequate proof of Miles' insolence and ingratitude? Few if any of them knew the reason the New Yorker was present.
Miles, hearing the man was in financial trouble, had invited him to play the date with his group. He had no need of the man, but offering a handout would perhaps have hurt the New Yorker's pride. The fee Miles paid him was big enough to get him out of town and on to the next gig.

A contributing factor to Miles' attraction is his show of freedom and individuality. This exhibition strikes a chord within many persons who, on the surface, are critical of his attitude. He seldom allows anyone to bore him with small talk. A chatterbox is likely to find himself talking to empty space as Miles walks quietly away.

Although there are several individual writers and disc jockeys among his personal  friends, as a profession, Miles has little use for persons in communications. He seldom gives interviews to writers and almost never appears for radio or television interviews. One reason he will not do them is that he is, in his speech habits, impetuously profane.

But perhaps more important than that is his extreme sensitivity about the loss of his normal speaking voice.

After a throat operation a few years ago, Miles was told by the doctors not to speak at all for several days. Someone provoked him, and Miles blurted out a retort. The damage was done. Now he speaks in a soft, rasping, gravelly voice. It is curiously attractive, when you become accustomed to it, and strangest of all, it somehow resembles the tightly restrained sound of his muted trumpet.

The    striking,    delicate-featured    man who stands in almost shy uneasiness, mute against the microphone, is the antithesis of the confident, self-contained offstage Miles. There are those who believe this restless musician is the real Miles. Certainly his exquisite—at times even fragile—playing would not seem to be the expression of a braggart or a bully.

Standing somewhere between the unapproachable loner and the onstage lonely trumpeter is Miles Dewey Davis. At present, Miles is unwilling to share that person with the public. He expresses his conviction that each person has a right and a duty to live an independent existence.

If this attitude rubs many persons the wrong way, his popularity evidently rises with each disparagement.

It was not surprising that Miles in the past few months has won both the Down Beat International Jazz Critics poll and the magazine's Readers poll. What is surprising, however, is that despite all the criticism of his stage manner, the readers also voted him jazz personality of the year.

Apparently a club owner was right when, not too long ago, he threw up his hands in exasperation as Miles sauntered offstage after a solo. After reciting to Miles a list of his sins, he said: "The trouble with you is that everybody likes you, you little son of a bitch."”                                          

Friday, April 19, 2019

Karina Corradini - Bridges to Infinity

Here's another effort by the editorial staff at JazzProfiles to bring to your 
attention promotional materials "as is" which we receive periodically from services, in this case, Michael Bloom of Michael Bloom Media Relations, that offer media release and public relations announcements in an effort to help both them and the Jazz artists they represent get the word out, as it were.

Obviously, we will have to do this selectively as there is simply no way that we can logistically accommodate servicing all of the notifications about new music that we receive.

Additionally, formatting and bringing up this material on the blog takes time away from the site's main mission which is to develop and present - "Focused Profiles on Jazz and its Creators while also Featuring the Work of Guest Writers and Critics on the Subject of Jazz."

Hi Steve–
Hopefully you've received Karina Corradini's self-released debut CD, given a listen, and liked it.

The release date is April 19.

There's a lot to like, from upbeat standards to Brazilian bossa nova hits.

Bass-playing jazz great Christian McBride is an anchor throughout, in the studio (as producer) and with the band.

Let me know what you think of it - and please review.


Here's her informative EPK (about 12 minutes total, in two parts for easier viewing):

Part 1:

Part 2:

The official press release and bio:

Bridge To Infinity is the (self-released) recording debut of Karina Corradini, a talented and versatile singer equally skilled at straight ahead jazz, ballads, boleros and Latin American classics. Her beautiful tone, powerful voice, highly appealing jazz phrasing, ability to scat at even the fastest tempos, and warmth when caressing ballads make her one of the most promising singers on the jazz and Latin jazz scenes today.

Karina Corradini was born and raised in San Isidro, Argentina, one hour away from downtown Buenos Aires. She started out with conventional tastes in music, enjoying the Beatles and the Bee Gees before she discovered Brazilian music. “I started to pay attention to what was called ‘Tropicalismo’ and was crazy for Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa. A bit later I discovered my all-time favorite, Elis Regina. I also really liked Nat King Cole, with his sweet American accent as he sang Latino tunes. When I was 15 years old, I met a group of young musicians who introduced me to jazz through Pat Metheny. I also listened to Paco de Lucia, John McLaughlin, and Al DiMeola and was very much into Egberto Gismonti and Lyle Mays as well. But then, after discovering the duets of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, I realized that that was the music I wanted to sing and if I only could sing a little like Ella, my purpose in life would be totally fulfilled.”

She began singing professionally when she was 18, leading her own jazz sextet, Karina Corradini and the Summer Band which performed at the beach, bars and restaurants during the summer. When the summer season ended, she sang on Corrientes Avenue in Buenos Aires, including a twice a week engagement for two years that often ended up as a jam session with veteran musicians. Karina worked at many venues (including the Teatro Coliseo, Jazz Club de la Plaza, the Thelonious Bar and Clasica y Moderna) and also twice toured Southern Brazil with her group. By the time she decided to move to the United States in 1999, she was among the busiest jazz singers in Buenos Aires. Even now, when she returns to Argentina on a yearly basis, she is always welcome to perform at the major jazz clubs.

“I moved to Los Angeles to learn Ella Fitzgerald’s language, and to study music in the land of jazz.” Karina attended Rhiannon’s workshop three times, seminars by Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy and Kevin Mahogany, and studied at Los Angeles City College and El Camino College. After performing with a rhythm and blues band for a year, she formed her own jazz group and has since performed at a countless number of clubs, restaurants, concerts and festivals, mostly in Southern California.

The story behind the release of Bridge To Infinity includes a lot of highs and lows for the singer. “One of the first people who I mentioned my idea to was my dear friend Christian McBride. He not only got excited for me but also wanted to be part of the project!” The great bassist, who would be the album’s producer and main arranger, was not immediately available so Karina recorded six songs on a demo with pianist Mahesh Balasooriya, bassist Rene Camacho and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith. She used the arrangements of Eric Bulling who had been the writer for the Ella Fitzgerald album Ella Abraca Jobim. The results were so rewarding that those performances are included on the CD. When Corradini and McBride finally got together in the studio with tenor and alto saxophonist Zane Musa, trumpeter Nolan Shaheed, pianist Mahesh Balasooriya, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, and percussionist Munyungo Jackson, the other nine songs were completed in two days. “It felt like a big party and was fun all of the time. All of those musicians are incredibly talented. But just as important to me, all of them have warmth, are non-judgmental, have an open minded vibe, and have a great deal of humanity.”

The wide-ranging program includes swinging standards (“You Turned The Tables On Me,” “Until I Met You,” and “Lover Come Back To Me”), boleros (“What A Difference A Day Makes” and “Tu Mi Delirio”), a tribute to Elis Regina (“Cai Dento”), bossa-novas (“Doralice” and “Voce E Eu”), and romantic ballads (“I Could Have Told You” and “If You Went Away”). Karina had one of her mentors, pianist Howlett “Smitty” Smith, guest on his original “When The Time Is Right,” and guitarist Barry Zweig is on two numbers including the uptempo “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart And Throw Away The Key.” Throughout the set, Karina’s singing is both inventive and beautiful while Zane Musa’s contributions consistently uplift the music.

Unforeseen developments and tragedies resulted in the release of Bridge To Infinity being stalled until now. Karina caught a serious fungus, Systemic Candidiasis, that resulted in her being ill for three years until, through research and the help of a nutritionist, she cured herself. In 2015 her close friend Zane Musa died in an accident. And Karina fell down a flight of stairs in Argentina, breaking a wrist and suffering from chronic pain syndrome for a year. Fortunately she is now fully recovered and quite active on the music scene.

“After all of that, 2018 is finally my year. I cannot believe that the project is finished and now everyone can hear it. I hope listeners really enjoy it. It is dedicated to the genius of Zane Musa.”

While Karina recorded a demo with the Tom Garvin Trio in 2001 (which made it possible for her to be hired for many jobs) and an unreleased CD in 2005 that included her good friend the late bassist Jorge Pasquali, Bridge To Infinity is her first recording released to the general public. Finally - listeners who live far beyond Southern California will get to appreciate her wonderful voice, musical talents and ability to make every song sound as if it was written for her.


Michael Bloom Media Relations

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Clifford Brown on The Left Coast: The Origins of the Max Roach - Clifford Brown Quintet

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

“Rumsey's real coup, however, was in bringing bebop legend Max Roach to the club as Manne's replacement. For the next several months Roach served as the unlikely drum-keeper of the Lighthouse flame — a period that proved exciting not only for inimitable percussion work, but also for Roach's many friends who sat in with the band. "When Max Roach came in from New York to take over Shelly Manne's drum chair," Rumsey relates, "he drove up with Charles Mingus and Miles Davis in the car with him."' Roach's arrival signaled a reversal of compass points from west to east. During the drummer's brief tenure, the Lighthouse hosted some of the brightest jazz stars from the East Coast scene. Rumsey continues:

Miles was just starting to play again after a long sabbatical back home in St. Louis. He hung around for a while, stayed at my home for a week, and did a couple of guest shots at the club. . . . Mingus never played bass for me, but he sat in several times as intermission pianist. As for Max, he set the whole town on fire. Out of his stint I developed long-lasting friendships: Dizzy, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker. …”
- Ted Gioia, West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California 1945-1960

Max Roach came to California in the fall of 1953 to replace Shelly Manne as drummer with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars.

He arrived by car with Miles Davis, who, due to his heroin addiction, was looking for a change of venue, and bassist Charles Mingus, who was originally from Los Angeles.

At the time, Max and Mingus were business partners as co-owners of the Debut recording label which they left in the capable hands of Mingus’ wife Celia who remained in New York to oversee its operation while they sojourned to what geocentric New Yorkers disparagingly refer to as “The Left Coast”.

Many Jazz fans are not aware that one of the forerunners of the Hard Bop style of Jazz - the Max Roach - Clifford Brown Quintet - a style of Jazz usually associated with New York City - had its origins in sunny, southern California

In his definitive treatment of West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California 1945-1960 [pp. 308-311], Ted Gioia offers the following narrative about how the Max Roach - Clifford Brown Quintet became a reality, albeit, tragically, a short-lived one.

“Despite his growing reputation as the outstanding exponent of modern jazz drumming, Roach had been working almost exclusively as a sideman. He had recorded as a leader for Debut—the label he had founded with Charles Mingus—but, by his own admission, had not yet "got seriously involved in bandleading." In California, he was asked by jazz impresario Gene Norman to start a group of his own. Promised an extended booking at the California Club, Roach agreed to form a quintet. His next move was to send for a young trumpeter from back east named Clifford Brown. These two musicians, one already famous in the jazz world and the other soon to be so, were about to become the most prominent members in one of the finest — if not the best — jazz combos of the early 1950s.

Brown's work in jazz was as striking for its architectonic structure as for its emotional immediacy. And this quest for order was as much a part of Clifford's life as it was integral to his music. Studies of highly gifted youngsters have revealed that in three areas of human endeavor — music, mathematics, and chess — talent becomes apparent at an especially young age. Clifford Brown's biography (as well as those of many other jazz musicians) substantiates the view that these three highly structured ways of seeing the universe may be correlated. Brown showed early ability in all three disciplines. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, on October 30, 1930, he revealed, first and foremost, a prodigious musical talent. In addition to quickly mastering the trumpet, which he began in his early teens, he pursued studies in piano and arranging while still in high school. When he entered Delaware State College, he started as a mathematics major, only switching to music after transferring to Maryland State. Brown's complementary skills as a chess player have been attested to by, among others, his bandmate Max Roach. And Roach should know: He was a fine player in his own right, who made the all-city chess team when still back in Brooklyn. By his late teens, Brown's career as a promising musician had come to overshadow these subsidiary interests. Even so, the ordered universe of mathematics and chess may have found its way into the trumpeter's music. At its best, his playing combined the raw passion of jazz with the precision and logic of composed music.

In a macabre foreshadowing. Brown was injured in an automobile accident in June 1950. For almost a year his promising musical career was placed on hold. His comeback was slow at first, and his first record date, with Chris Powell and His Blue Flames, did not take place until March 1952, almost two years after the accident. Only six weeks later, however, Brown was back in the studio again, this time with a much finer band consisting of Lou Donaldson, Elmo Hope, Percy Heath, and Philly Joe Jones. From this point until his tragic early death in a second auto accident in June 1956, Brown would record and perform regularly with the finest musicians in jazz. His few recordings are among the most important jazz legacies from the 1950s.

By the time of his fateful journey to California, he had already impressed many with his precocious skills on the trumpet. Both Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were strong supporters of the young musician: Parker's glowing recommendation had convinced Art Blakey to add Brownie to his band for a brief period earlier in 1954, while Gillespie had been among the first to tell Max Roach about the extraordinary talent of this future colleague. In addition to these illustrious connections, Brown had already gained valuable experience recording and playing with Tadd Dameron, Lionel Hampton, J. J. Johnson, and Gigi Gryce. These early sideman sessions, as well as a few dates as a leader from this period, demonstrated that Brown had already achieved a mature, poised style and a polished virtuosity well before his twenty-third birthday.

Perhaps the most striking element of this provocative trumpet style was Brown's distinctive sound. When many aspiring bop trumpeters were willing to sacrifice tonal clarity in order to play fast, Brown proved that it was possible to have it both ways: One could (or at least Brown could) play complex, rapid-fire melodic lines while still maintaining a warm, well-rounded tone. Building on the legacy of Fats Navarro, Brown could boast of the purest, cleanest sound of any of the young bebop trumpeters.

One could well imagine Brown playing the classical trumpet repertoire — much as Wynton Marsalis would do a generation later — without having to alter his basic musical conception. (Nor is it a coincidence that Marsalis's earliest jazz work showed the strong influence of Clifford Brown. Brown was the perfect role model for this latter-day master of both the classical and jazz idioms.) This keen sense of sound provided the foundation for Brown's other musical virtues: his melodic creativity, his speed of execution, his sense of phrasing and dynamics.

The Brown/Roach group was perhaps the strongest working jazz band of its day, the ensembles of Parker and Gillespie notwithstanding. At first, however, the personnel of the band underwent a number of changes. Roach's initial choice for the saxophone chair. Sonny Stitt, made the trip out west with Brown, only to leave the band after a few weeks. Stitt's replacement was Teddy Edwards, a powerful tenorist who had made a name for himself on recordings with Howard McGhee and Dexter Gordon a few years before. Edwards was playing in the San Francisco area during the summer of 1954 but returned to Southern California when Roach asked him to finish out the group's engagement at the California Club. … “

Although Edwards did not remain with the group when it went on the road a short while later—by then Harold Land had taken his place— he participated in the group's first recording for Gene Norman. … , by the time the Brown/Roach group returned to the studio in early August, the side-men had changed to the very successful combination of Harold Land, Richie Powell, and George Morrow.

In the interim, Brown had participated in a very different session for Richard Bock's Pacific label. Tenor saxophonist Jack Montrose was called in as an arranger and proceeded to create a distinctive setting for Brownie's horn, one very different from the hard bop orientation of the Roach group. Montrose's tight, medium-groove arrangements were typical of the "West Coast sound," but to counterbalance this tendency toward the cool, Montrose wisely drew on some of the more hard-swinging musicians in the area to complement Brown's energetic style. Zoot Sims and Bob Gordon both proved to be compatible front-line foils for the young trumpeter.”

These Pacific Jazz recordings by the Roach - Brown 5tet are included in Clifford Brown: The Complete Blue Note and Pacific Jazz Recordings [CDP 7243 8 34195 2 4] for which its producer, Michael Cuscuna provided the following notes about Brownie and the tracks he cut for Pacific Jazz.

“It was just four years. One presidential term. The interval between Olympic contests. No time at all. Virtually everything we know about trumpeter Clifford Brown — who at age 26 was killed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, in an accident that also claimed the life of pianist Richie Powell — comes from what he recorded in one incredibly narrow four-year window.

Of course Brown's storybook transformation took a bit longer: In less than a decade, he went from semi-unknown to jazz royalty, from student to master stylist. With the methodical dedication of a professional athlete, he established himself on the jazz scene of his hometown, Wilmington, Delaware, and then nearby Philadelphia, and then the world. Before he'd finished his first year of college, the network of musicians on the East Coast were buzzing about this unusually proficient young talent—Charlie Parker was so enamored, he told Art Blakey not to bother bringing a trumpet player to a gig in Philadelphia. How quickly did Brown ascend? One year he was making his recording debut with R&B bandleader Chris Powell and his Blue Flames, the next he was doing sessions with established

bebop trombonist Jay Jay Johnson and leading a date that featured MJQ pianist John Lewis, By 1954, when the Downbeat critics poll identified him as the new trumpet star, he was already co-leading the group with Max Roach that ushered in and helped delineate the bebop-derived music that became known as hard bop. Two years later, he was dead. Jazz artists traditionally expect to get a few years to develop; Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and others established their musical identities over decades. Listening to Clifford, any Clifford, it's obvious he never counted on that. Every solo was the one for the books. His phrases carried an irrepressible fight-to-the-finish urgency, and his tone practically demanded attention. A mathematician and chess player, he cared about clarity more than any jumble of notes. He did develop in the short duration of his recording career, but even his early solos sound poised, carefully thought-out, complete.

Everyone who heard Clifford Brown in the early '50s remembers him being fully ready, even as a very young man. Jimmy Heath, active in Philadelphia jazz at the time, says he can still hear the way "this shy kid" sounded when Brown sat in with Heath's group at Wilmington's Two Spot in the late '40s: "He came in and wiped everybody out. He was already polished. It was pretty unexpected coming from this gentle introverted person."

It is this unexpectedly wise-beyond-his-years attitude that makes "early" Clifford Brown—the first few years of his recording career, as opposed to the last few—so important. These discs, which collect his contributions to Blue Note as both sideman and leader, suggest new angles from which to view this firebrand. They're the oft-overlooked back pages of a man who's influenced everyone who followed him in jazz trumpet. More than footnotes, they're the stuff he recorded in the midst of building his reputation, and as such, they capture an artist laying the foundation, developing the vocabulary, and beginning to test the limits. Like many who sought to utilize the language of bebop, he worked out on its difficult slalom courses nightly, and understood that mistakes were part of the cost of doing business. If 1955 and '56 represent Brown's mature zenith, then 1953 and '54 were his crucial formative time, a period of explosive growth and near-constant financial worries. Brown could scarcely afford to turn down work, as the critics understood: writing about Brown's first date as a leader (disc one, known as the Clifford Brown Memorial Album), Down Beat's Nat Hentoff ended his 4-star rave by announcing "Brownie has really arrived; now let's hope he can get some steady gigs."

In 1953, the Blue Note stable was a logical point of entry for jazzmen in pursuit of steady work. After signing Thelonious Monk in 1947. the label somehow missed bebop's other pioneers, and played catch-up by documenting the work of a large group of younger, bop-influenced players. The leaders changed depending on the day, but the quality of musicianship and the spirit of the sessions remained consistently high. It made sense for an emerging artist like Clifford Brown, then just entering the close-knit circuit of New York musicians, to get a call from Blue Note. Alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, who co-led a June 9 session with Clifford that was the trumpeter's first appearance on the label, remembers the atmosphere this way: "Everybody was real compatible, both personally and musically. It just happened that in New York at that time, there were a lot of like-minded musicians — situations where it almost didn't matter who you got, everybody could play."

By the time Brown got his first call to record, he could certainly play. Born in Wilmington on October 30, 1930, he became fascinated by the look of a trumpet his father, a multi-instrumentalist, had around the house. He started playing at age 13, when his father bought him his own horn. While in junior high, he studied music with Robert Lowery, a musician whose clinics and jazz band rehearsals were well-known in the community. Lowery remembers Brownie as a "serious" student: "He really wanted to get out of it everything he could, that's why he stood out more. Not right off the bat, after he learned exactly how to hear. I have a method, and when you learn that method you can actually hear what you're going to play. He got it."

Marcus Belgrave, who followed Brown through Lowery's classes, often heard Clifford practice. "When he played, everything was scientifically laid out. He was into writing ideas down, he would always tell me to write things down. He'd play everything through the keys." Belgrave remembers that even after Brown began playing jazz gigs, he'd still show up at this weekly community marching band whenever he could. "I asked him why he bothered to show up to play these circus-type tunes, and he said "I like all kinds of music," and from that point on, I delved into everything I could get my hands on. That one thing he said really turned me around."

By the dawn of bebop. Brown had already identified his inspiration: He loved the crisp articulation and intricate phrases of the ill-fated trumpeter Fats Navarro, Max Roach recalled that in every interview situation, Brown would always mention Navarro first. He met his idol in 1949, on a gig in Philadelphia, and was encouraged by the bebop master, who died the next year from tuberculosis that was complicated by narcotics addiction. After attracting the attention of Dizzy Gillespie and others, Brown then had his own trouble: He was in a car accident in June 1950, and spent most of the year in the hospital, recovering. Among his visitors was Gillespie.

When he was back in action, he played with Bud Powell in Philadelphia, then with bandleader Chris Powell (no relation), and then in 1953, landed a job with Tadd Dameron's band playing the summer season in Atlantic City. That summer he also managed to record twice—with Jay Jay Johnson and in his first date as a leader. In the fall of that year, he did a European tour with Lionel Hampton's band, where he met, among others, the trumpeter and arranger Quincy Jones—who contributed some compositions to his first date, and supervised some recordings Brown made while in Europe with Hampton. In November, Brown found himself in New York, employed by Art Blakey; the two Live At Birdland discs were recorded in February 1954, and featured future Jazz Messenger Horace Silver on piano.

Later that year, Max Roach, who was leading a group at the Lighthouse, flew East to propose a partnership. Brown accepted, and that summer, the group worked the L.A. circuit while Brown was engaged by producer Richard Bock  play on a West Coast-style date—the Jazz Immortal Featuring Zoot Sims session found on disc two. A week later, the Brown/Roach band hit the studio, and one of the great Synergies of jazz was born: From the summer of '54 until Brown's death in '56, there was no band that more skillfully combined the breakneck tempos and harmonic excitement of bebop with more relaxed and musical textures that would become hard bop. (This music, as well as Brown's later solo records, is chronicled on the 10-CD set Brownie: The Complete EmArcy Recordings Of Clifford Brown, issued in 1989.)

Brown had a few advantages over some of his peers. He was a disciplined man—his wife, LaRue Brown Watson, remembers squeezing in time with Clifford between his practice sessions. He was also drug-free at a time when musicians leaned on narcotics the way baseball players rely on chewing tobacco. Says Lou Donaldson: "Back then, a lot of guys were strung out. But Clifford was strong. There was nothing to get in his way. He was powerful, the guy who could play all night and never split a note."

Brown was a leader well before he became a bandleader. He led with his instrument, with his innate ability to place phrases so they'd sting, or caress. He had enviable command of the instrument, but was no mere button-pusher; his strength was the rare ability to give technically demanding passages a human heart. He announced himself with terse fanfares — he had a knack for starting his solos with phrases that snapped listeners to attention — yet never relied solely on the herculean feats. Trumpet players gush in admiration over his gifts: Belgrave said that at one point, he had to stop listening to Clifford Brown, because Brown "made you feel so inadequate you'd want to put your horn in the trash." Art Farmer, already somewhat established on the scene at that time, said much the same thing in an interview shortly after Brown's death: "...He was such a sweet and warm human being, I was forced to like him even though he made things very difficult for me as a trumpet player."

Brown emulated a few Navarro-isms, most notably the beboppers' articulation. Where most trumpet players grouped their thoughts by Slurring notes together, Brown, like Navarro before him, used his tongue more frequently, creating clipped, machine-gun lines in which every note was crisply delineated. For Wynton Marsalis, this remains one of Brown's signatures: "It's real hard to play the trumpet and tongue that much," Marsalis says. "That was the way he phrased. If you play a Charlie Parker solo on the trumpet, it sounds like Clifford. He had them fingers, too."

Brown also possessed an unerring knack for drama. With one off-balance phrase or a sudden reversal of direction, he could suggest sweeping mood changes; where many musicians operated at one volume, he'd establish a quiet mood, then abandon it in favor of a celebratory shout. Saxophonist Benny Golson, who worked with Brown in Dameron's band, admired the trumpeter's control of resources, particularly on ballads: "He could change from a meek lamb, musically, into a fierce tiger. He could play the bottom, top, loud, soft; he was playing the whole instrument."

Not incidentally, these elements of his musical personality helped non-musicians respond to what Brownie did on the bandstand. Jimmy Heath tells the story of a gig he played with Clifford at Spider Kelly's club in Philadelphia. "It was a little place on Mole St., near Market, and a woman who was completely out of her head, you know intoxicated, came up to the bandstand after the set. We'd been playing all the bebop heads we heard Dizzy and them play, and this lady comes up and says “I don't know what it is that you guys are playing, but you" — and she points right at Clifford — "are playing the hell out of it." Clifford had his head bowed in his usual humble way, and we were laughing. She didn't know what it was, but she knew he was doing it well."

“The last eight tracks on disc two come from the summer of 1954, when Brown met up with Max Roach and they were beginning to work in Los Angeles. Producer Richard Bock proposed a West Coast-style four-horn session featuring Clifford, with arrangements by Jack Montrose; Clifford, always looking for new challenges, agreed to it. Montrose remembers spending day and night with Clifford: "Art Pepper and I had a group that was playing opposite Brown and Roach at the Tiffany Club. For a couple of weeks there, I would go to his hotel room during the day and go over his tunes, and then we'd play at night." Montrose says he worked up charts on a few Brownie originals—"Daahoud," "Joy Spring," "Tiny Capers," "Bones For Jones"—and then was told by Bock to write arrangements for "Blueberry Hill" and "Gone With The Wind." "I don't think they were Clifford's choice, so I had to make something good out of them." Montrose also had to bridge the stylistic difference between Brown's searing-hot mode of operation and the more laid-back West Coast style. This was another challenge, Montrose recalls: "It wasn't the kind of thing he'd been into— everything he'd played had more fire. But his tunes were terrific, and everybody was surprised by how warm he was. I think he was less hung up by the style than by the fact he'd never played with those musicians before. But he got over that. It was a really happy date."

What was most striking for her, LaRue Brown Watson says, was the way Clifford was able to keep the different styles separate. "This was something so totally different from anything that he had ever done or would do again. I always thought it was strange that he could go into the studio during the daytime and play the kind of music that came out of Pacific Jazz, and at night turn around and play something totally different with Max."

As Michael concludes: “These moments and others, are not just the work of a clever button-pusher. They’re the product of a true thinker, an artist who was serious about communicating through his improvisations.”