Friday, February 28, 2014

Pacific Jazz Samplers [From the Archives]

When this piece first posted to the blog in July, 2010, the closing video tribute to Richard Bock and Pacific Jazz Records had not been added. The music on it, bass trumpeter Cy Touff's Octet performing Johnny Mandel's "Groover Wailin'", is but one example of the hundreds of LP's issued by Pacific Jazz that in retrospect provide a basis in documentation for what was then referred to as the "West Coast Jazz Scene.


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

A few years ago, thanks to the urgings of a brilliant and witty friend who mockingly refers to himself as “the sage of the Florida swamps,”  a group of West Coast Jazz fans set out to track down the Pacific Jazz label’s sampler LP's and convert them to CD.

The leadership for this task fell primarily to another friend, a kind and gentle man who heads-up a West Coast Jazz internet chat group and who is also an expert of the subject of West Coast Jazz in general and the recordings of Pacific Jazz in particular.

Frankly, without the guidance and knowledge of this quintessential Gentleman, the Pacific Jazz sampler conversion project would have been a non-starter [“today speak” for would-never-have-gotten-off-the-ground].

Some other members of said chat group contributed their expertise and materials to this non-commercial project and before long the digital conversions were taking place replete with scaled down artwork and liner notes from the original LPs.

Until he sold it to Liberty records during the mid-1960’s, the “chief cook and bottle washer” at Pacific Jazz was Richard Bock, who had founded the label about ten years earlier.


I gather from those who knew him personally during the years he owned and operated the label and from those who have subsequently made a study of his business practices that Dick Bock was a very idiosyncratic man who basically viewed Pacific Jazz as his sandbox in which he could build whatever kind of sand castles he chose to build however he chose to build them [I’m sure there is a better metaphor for this, but I can’t think of one at the moment].

The following, paraphrased paragraph from Mosaic Records’s founder and President Michael Cuscuna provides us with another view of Richard Bock’s entrepreneurial proclivities:

Dick Bock, owner and producer of Pacific Jazz Records, had some strange habits. Among them were switching takes when a tune went from 10' LP to 12" LP. Often he would gather together anthologies of unreleased material from various artists and various sessions. On occasion, for some sessions an album was never realized. Instead, various tracks would emerge on various anthologies in the late fifties. Releasing these performances in such scattered form over time gave the session a status of almost non-existence. To make matters worse, some tunes kept reappearing on new anthologies in shorter and shorter forms through editing.”

As the name implies, a “sampler” offers the buyer a variety of audio tracks from the artists and albums available through the Pacific Jazz catalogue.


And while this was generally the case with samplers from Pacific Jazz and other record companies that issued them, with Pacific Jazz, the sampler buyer sometimes got bonus of tracks that had not been previously released or alternative tracks from previous recording sessions.

Such LP’s were often sold at a discount price to make them more appealing to the buyer. As indicated on the PJ  “Assorted Flavors” cover used as the graphic lead-in to this piece, that sampler was available for $1.98 which is probably today’s cost for the ice cream cone the little girl’s holding!

If you weren’t already familiar with the playing of certain artists or the style of  a particular group, samplers were an inexpensive way to get a first hearing.

In the case of Pacific Jazz, Richard Bock was blessed at the outset to have the brilliant photographic work of William Claxton form the basis for most of his album covert art.  Ray Avery, a contemporary, once said of Claxton work: “Some of us take photographs of Jazz musicians, but Bill does much more than that: he is an artist with a camera.”

In fairness, Dick Bock’s Pacific Jazz label gave Bill Claxton a place to learn and practice his art as a photographer so the creative purposes of each were well-served through their business relationship.

Acknowledgement should also be made of the skills of Woody Woodward, who designed many of the Pacific Jazz covers, and without whose logistical and technical contributions, Dick Bock’s Pacific Jazz would have been even more disorganized, and of Dotty Woodward, the firm’s accountant and the person who managed the royalties for the musicians and composers.

More of the details about the origin and development of Pacific Jazz Records are contained in the reminiscences of William Claxton that conclude this piece.


From a legal perspective, I would imagine that mid-1950's [when most of the PJ samplers were issued] and early 1960’s were a much simpler time from a copyright, music publishing and artists rights’ standpoint.

While ASCAP and BMI royalties may have been paid, I doubt that the performing artists received a great deal of additional revenue from these samplers.

And yet, the albums themselves are a treat because they provide more or different music by favorite West Coast Jazz artists and because they often contain musical surprises and revelations such a bass trumpets, cellos and flutes and oboes – all of which are fairly rare in a Jazz environment [with the exception of the flute].

Since many of these Pacific Jazz samplers are difficult to find, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles has created the following YouTube with slides of many of  the album covers from the series along with an audio track from the Assorted Flavors of Pacific Jazz: A Hi-Fi Sampler.

Some of this sampler’s tracks are combined within a spoken narrative that describes the evolution of West Coast Jazz in the 1950s as represented on Pacific Jazz records.

The audio track on the following YouTube is fairly representative of the music available on these samplers, this one featuring Cy Touff’s bass trumpet with an octet arrangement of Johnny Mandel’s Groover Wailin’.

In 1992, Hitoshi Namekata engaged William Claxton to co-author Jazz West Coast: The  Artwork of Pacific Jazz [Tokyo: Bijutsu Shuppan-Sha].  Claxton wrote the following introduction for the book which he entitled: Clickin’ With Clax: A History of Pacific Jazz Records.


© -William Claxton, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“It was the winter of 1949. My former high school girl friend, Carol McCallson, had become a top fashion model in New York and was coming out to California, bringing a friend to escape the cold New York weather. It just so happened that Los Angeles was suffering through its worst cold winter of the century. The good aspect of her trip was that the friend she brought out was the young, somewhat legendary tenor saxophonist, Allen Eager. I was on winter holiday from college. So, the three of us spent two weeks palling around together; I showed them around Hollywood, visiting the jazz clubs where Allen introduced us to the musicians; we would stay up late listening to the records of the young Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie and, of course, Bird. I think that we wore out all of Charlie Parker's Dial recordings. We would drive around late at night in the rain and scat sing Bird's solos. Allen would tell us about Pres and Billie and what it was like playing with Dizzy, Stan Getz, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron and others at the Royal Roost on 52nd Street. It was exciting to listen to this "cool" musician while driving about in a Cadillac convertible with its owner, a sophisti­cated model.

One Sunday afternoon Allen suggested that we stop at the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard to meet a couple of his musician friends. We walked into what turned out to be Woody Herman's large suite of rooms. There were most of Herman's "Four Brothers Band" sitting around casually rehearsing. There in front of my eyes were Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Bill Harris, Jimmy Giuffre and Shorty Rogers. The music was wonderful. And I'll never forget how the gold afternoon light fell across this room full of energetic, young musicians and how the sparkling reflections danced off their shiny brass instruments.

I made a vow to myself: never to be around musicians without my camera again.

We always had music around my house as I was growing up in the 40's and 50's. My mother sang in an important church choir and played piano. My older brother studied piano and would practice while imitating everyone from Eddie Duchin to the boogie woogie piano of Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons. The record player (the Victrola) was always playing, as was the radio. I thought the Hit Parade was corny, but I loved the big band shows of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and, of course, Count Basie. Like most boys, I liked airplanes and automobiles and devoted scrapbooks to my favorites. Later my heroes were singers and musicians: Cab Galloway, Duke Ellington, Lena Home and Billie Holiday...never dreaming that one day I would be photographing them.

While in junior high school, a neighborhood chum introduced me to photography. I had always done well in my art classes, but photography produced a special magic for me. It was through my sister and her collection of fashion magazines, VOGUE and HARPER'S BAZAAR, that I became aware of photographers Irving Penn and Richard Avedon and their pure but sophisticated images of people, all kinds of people, not just fashion models. Somewhere in the back of my mind I decided that I wanted to photograph my favorite musicians in a similar style.

Jazz became more and more important to me during high school, and I began collecting records of Johnny Hodges, Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young. But the skies parted for me the first time I heard Charlie "Bird" Parker. My other high school pals were shocked too, but in an adverse way. I knew Bird was a genius and bought every record he made.


On the weekends, I would borrow my father's car, pack up my 4x5 Speed Graphic camera, and head for some jazz club. I was much too young to be legally allowed in the clubs, but because I was very tall, I was rarely questioned. The clubs that I frequented were Brother's on Central Avenue, The Clef Club in Hollywood, and the Club Alabam. The first musicians that I photographed in those days were Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Ernie Royal, Buddy Collette, and Frank Morgan. Every now and then I would have a date and go to the local bars in Glendale, near my high school, and listen to the Nat "King" Cole Trio, Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart Duo, Bobby Short, and Harry the Hipster.

While a student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) studying psychology and art and wondering how and when I would ever be able to make a living with the knowledge I might gain from these two subjects, I photographed some "exceptional" children (special because these children were intelligent but had emotional problems and were failing in their school work). The pictures were purchased by LADIES' HOME JOURNAL magazine, and I was paid rather well. It was then that I decided that photography could possibly become my career.
My passion for jazz and photography grew through my college years, and I continued to visit jazz clubs and occasionally a jazz concert when I could afford it. It was during one of these excursions that I met Richard Bock, and Pacific Jazz Records was about to be born.

In the Fall of 1952, I heard that Gerry Mulligan was going to appear in Los Angeles. I had heard interesting stories about this composer, arranger, and baritone player. I knew that he had written Jeru, Boplicity, Venus de Milo, and Godchild for Miles Davis and that he wrote for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, but the best story about him was that when he was broke and no one would give him money to rehearse his band, he took the band outside to Central Park in the middle of Manhattan. This event caused a great commotion and did just what he wanted: to call attention to his talent and ambition.

Once again I borrowed my dad's car, grabbed my enormous 4x5 Speed Graphic camera, and pointed the big Packard towards the Wilshire district where The Haig club was located. Why this tiny converted bungalow was called The Haig, I shall never know. It was so small that its capacity was only 85 people. Shorty Rogers supposedly said of the place, "If you took four steps, you had crossed the room." There have been many stories of why there was no piano in the club. One was that Red Norvo had just appeared there and had it removed, having no need for it. Another rumor was that the owner of the club, John Bennett, hadn't paid the rent on it so it was taken back by its owner. Yet one more rumor was that the piano simply was not delivered. So Gerry Mulligan did what he does best: Improvise! So, along with Chet Baker, Chico Hamilton and Bob Whitlock on bass, Gerry created the now famous "piano less quartet."

It was opening night and I arrived early. After introducing myself to Gerry, I got permission to take pictures. The music was, of course, wonderful and the place was packed. While I was shooting pictures, a young man introduced himself as Dick Bock. He was recording the group and he asked if he could see my pictures as soon as possible. I asked, "Oh, do you have a record company?" He replied, "No, but I will have one by morning." He was so bright-eyed and optimistic. That was the beginning of Pacific Jazz Records.


The actual company was created by Dick Bock with partners, drummer Roy Hart and accountant-sometimes-recording engineer, Phil Turetsky. Dick Bock liked my pictures of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet and put them on the record cover. After that I shot a photograph of Harry "Sweets" Edison for Pacific Jazz's next release. Following several successful covers, Dick asked me to join the organization as Art Director and "Chief Photographer"; a month later I was made a partner in the company.

The first Pacific Jazz offices opened in a small above Roy Hart's Drum Shop on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. The one employee at that time was Dotty Woodward. She took care of the books, the accounts, and the royalties for the musicians and song writers. We all did a little bit of the chores, wrapping and shipping orders, etc. Later on, Dotty's husband, Woody Woodward, joined the group and became the manager and Dick Bock's right-hand man. Woody became an accomplished photographer and designer and took over much of that work when I left the group several years later.

The Gerry Mulligan records were very successful, but during the follow­ing year, Chet Baker was being looked at and listened to as a star in his own right. With his boyish good looks and his honest and direct trumpet work, he was beginning to win all the jazz polls and the popularity polls of that time. He quit Gerry's group and formed his own quartet in the Spring of 1954 with Russ Freeman on piano, Carson Smith, bass, and Bob Neel on drums.


Russ Freeman was an accomplished and well-educated musician. Chet Baker was not. He was considered a "natural." Russ became his teacher and profes­sional musician friend. Russ was responsible for much of Chefs growth as a musician.

It was during this period that Dick Bock said to me one morning, "Guess what Chet wants to do now? He wants to sing. What's more he wants me to record him!" So, he did and I photographed the event. Well, the rest is history. Chefs voice was just like the voice of his trumpet: sweet, gentle, simple, and honest. 
The first Chet Baker Sings album was very popular and was followed by two more vocal albums. Chet Baker was being pursued by movie producers and television companies to star in shows. But Chet had a drug problem, so he did not take many of his offers seriously or just ignored them.

Dick Bock was beginning to discover other new artists and to record them. Bud Shank, with guitarist Laurindo Almeida, produced some of the first Latin guitar and jazz music before bossa nova. Chico Hamilton formed his own quintet featuring Jim Hall and cellist Fred Katz. Pepper Adams did his famous Critic's Choice album for Pacific Jazz. In those early days of Pacific Jazz, Dick Bock produced some of the first and best recordings of such artists as Art Pepper, Bob Brookmeyer, Cy Touff and Richie Kamuca, Lee Konitz with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, and The Mastersounds with the Montgomery Brothers.

During much of this same period, 1954 to 1956, a few miles west of the Pacific Jazz offices, Les Koenig was recording artists for his Good Time Jazz label (mostly Dixieland) and his Contemporary label. Koenig saw my photographs and began hiring me to shoot and design his record covers for artists like Barney Kessel, the Lighthouse Allstars, Hampton Hawes, Shelly Manne and Sonny Rollins. The albums I designed for the Poll Winners series (Shelly Manne, Barney Kessel and Ray Brown) proved to be very successful, as much for the cover jackets as for the music inside. The cover for Sonny Rollins Way Out West won several awards.

Back at Pacific Jazz, Dick Bock formed a publishing company, Linear Productions. For his first effort he wanted to publish a book of my jazz photographs. It was to be a portfolio of photographs with short articles or pieces by writers Will MacFarland, Nesuhi Ertegun, David Stuart, Woody Woodward and Herbert Kimmel, who later formed his own recording label, Jazz West. I called this first book JAZZ WEST COAST. Dick Bock decided then to release an album to accompany my book. It would be a collection or anthology of recordings of Pacific Jazz artists. We decided to give it the same name as my book. It was such a hit that it was followed by Volumes 2 and 3. The news media picked up on the title Jazz West Coast and it became "West Coast Jazz." At first, many critics and musicians on the East Coast said that there was no such thing as "West Coast Jazz." Which in a sense was true at that time. Many newly arrived jazz stars like Dave Brubeck in San Francisco, Gerry Mulligan in Los Angeles, Shorty Rogers, and Clifford Brown were from other parts of the country but happened to be in the right place at the right time. But the name "West Coast Jazz" did not go away.

In our book JAZZ WEST COAST, writer Will MacFarland stated: "The chances are, history will reveal that there is a West Coast School: a group of musicians playing calmer, gentler jazz, placing at least as much emphasis on writing as on soloing." During this period the new young arrangers, writers, players like Shorty Rogers, Bill Holman, Jimmy Giuffre, Jack Montrose, Johnny Mandel and Marty Paich blossomed into what became a whole new fresh sound. Call it what you want.


Those early days in the 1950's around Los Angeles and San Francisco were exciting for the jazz lover. There was so much good music to be heard, and there were so many jazz clubs like the Tiffany on 8th Street, Zardi's in Hollywood, Billy Berg's on Vine Street, and the Blackhawk in San Francisco, where Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond first played. Then there were the Oasis, the California Club and of course, Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach. All this new music coincided with the advent of the Long Playing recording...the LP phenomenon. Everybody was recording... Night and day the studios were booming. It was in the recording studios that I got many of my best photographs. The musicians knew me and trusted me. I was close to them. At one late-night recording session, RCA Victor's A & R man, Jack Lewis, turned to Shorty Rogers, the composer of a just-recorded Pete Jolly Trio side, and asked him the name of the tune. Shorty shook his head, then looked up at me with my camera in hand, smiled, and said, "Hey man, how 'bout Clickin' with Clax."

My photographic covers were very successful on the Pacific Jazz, Contemporary, Good Time Jazz and Fantasy labels. But I was also shooting for the major labels like Capitol, Columbia, Decca and RCA Victor, and the dozen or so small recently formed companies that sprang up overnight. Regarding my photographic equipment, I did, indeed, graduate from that first old 4 x 5 Speed Graphic to a Rolleiflex camera to use available light. No more flash bulbs or cumbersome strobe equipment for me. In the mid 1940's, the work of Herman Leonard impressed me with its strong, crisp images and smoke everywhere. He must have used strobe lights. The musicians looked to me a little posed, but very dramatic. I wanted more freedom and never wanted to intrude on the performer. I have often wished that I could photograph someone without a camera-to use only my eyes and brain to record the image and not have that mechanism between us. Using the Light available at the time was as close as possible to my wish. But I needed faster lenses than the Rolleiflex offered, so I changed to 35mm Nikon cameras with their fast fl.4 lenses and relatively quiet focal plane shutters. There were times in the recording studios when I would shoot during the actual "takes," so I would try to click the shutter "on the beat."

Dick Bock of Pacific Jazz pushed me to come up with more and more new ideas for the record cover designs. I put Chet Baker and his quartet on a boat for Chet Baker and Crew; I shot Bud Shank and Bob Cooper with children and Bud Shank with the funny papers; I mounted Shelly Manne, Barney Kessel and Ray Brown on carousels of a merry-go-round; I put Shorty Rogers in a space helmet and up a tree house; and I shot musicians on the sandy beaches and in vintage cars... It became my signature to photograph jazz musicians in unlikely places. But what to do next ?

Photographs of jazz musicians in hot, smoke-filled clubs and studios with perspiration running down their faces were, in my mind, too stereotypical and not even honest anymore, certainly not on the West Coast. So I began to shoot clean, distinguished, rather sedate portraits of stars like Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Hampton Hawes, Art Pepper, Lee Konitz, Art Farmer, John Coltrane, and John Lewis with his Modern Jazz Quartet looking even more elegant than usual in a ballet rehearsal hall.


Around 1957, the record company executives and their advisers noticed that competition was getting out of hand. There were just too many LP records being produced. It was time to rethink package design. It was decided to put sex on the covers: beautiful females, models, and girl friends to help sell the records. Pacific Jazz was no different. Contemporary Records and everyone else did the same thing. I liked unusual looking girls, so I photographed a young dancer friend of mine named Lelia Goldoni. Lelia graced the covers of many albums, including one of the Laurindo Almeida and Bud Shank covers and a Jack Sheldon cover. In the latter part of 1958, I met a young actress named Peggy Moffitt. I photographed her in an exotic costume for the Mastersounds recording of the Broadway show Kismet. Stereophonic sound became the next new technical gimmick to inundate the LP record market. Pacific Jazz sent out a demo record to demonstrate its own brand of stereophonic jazz sound. It was called "In Both Ears!" I photographed Peggy looking very chic holding two old fa­shioned hearing aid "trumpets" plugged into each of her lovely ears. Peggy was photographed for several more covers before I suggested that she should become a fashion model. She began working with the fashion designer Rudi Gernreich-together they made fashion history. Peggy and I were married in June of 1959.

Since the name West Coast Jazz had become so firmly entrenched with the music media, I came up with an idea that would further the importance of an art movement that was going on in the Los Angeles area at that time. The art galleries were flourishing with the talents of local artists. Monday nights on La Cienega Boulevard were the showcase nights when the works of the new, young artists could be seen. Dick Bock and I commissioned several of these artists (Bob Irwin, Keith Finch, Sueo Serisawa, and John Altoon). We would either give the artist a recording of a specific jazz artist or group to work with, or we would actually have the group play for the artist at his studio to "inspire" the painter. This became known as the "West Coast Artists Series." It received a great deal of attention. And it produced some very interesting record cover art that was a departure from the well-known and successful photo-graphic covers of that period.


By the Spring of 1958, I was photographing for virtually every record label, and I was also branching out into other fields, doing special photography on major movie productions for the major magazines. Dick Bock offered to buy my part of the partnership, and I agreed. Dick became more and more interested in the mystical aspects of East Indian philosophy. My only interest in that subject was the recordings of Ravi Shankar. I photographed him for his first two World-Pacific recordings.

The art of the LP cover, I'm afraid, has pretty much vanished with the arrival of the Compact Disk (CD) product. It is a bit more difficult to make an exciting package with that small 5x5" format. I long for that big 12x12" space where an exciting visual image could be put that would do justice to the artist on the recording and "turn on" the potential buyer.

I've never given up my love for jazz and, of course, for photography. The international language of jazz has delighted and moved me, and it has allowed me to speak to people all over the world through the international language of photography.

William Claxton
Beverly Hills
1992”

Bass trumpeter Cy Touff's Octet is comprised of Harry Edison and Conrad Gozzo, trumpet, Richie Kamuca, tenor saxophone, Matt UTal, alto and baritone saxophones, Russ Freeman, piano, Leroy Vinnegar, bass and Chuck Flores, drums.


Friday, February 21, 2014

"Norman's Conquests:" Revisiting Gene Lees on Norman Granz

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles is in the process of completing a review of Tad Hershorn's Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice, [Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011].

Tad is an archivist at the Institute of Jazz Studies which is located in Rutgers University. While reading his excellent biography of Norman, we were reminded of this earlier posting which highlights the late Gene Lees' thoughts on Norman significance to Jazz.

We have appended an earlier video on Norman's The Jazz Scene which will visually introduce you to some of the Jazz musicians who became part of Norman's earliest stable of artists, many of whom were part of his ground-breaking Jazz at the Philharmonic series.

It is almost impossible to conceive of what the modern Jazz scene would have been like without Norman's involvement, inspiration and innovation.


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


Very few people have done as much for Jazz or have been as important to the music and its makers as Norman Granz.

Many of the reasons why this is so are explained and recounted in the following essay by Gene Lees which is excerpted from his biography Oscar Peterson: The Will To Swing [London: Macmillan, 1988]

It is a privilege and an honor to have Gene Lees and Norman Granz – two of our enduring heroes – features on these pages.

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

From the time they first met, Oscar Peterson … never made an important career decision without consulting Norman Granz. With the possible exception of the long association of Louis Armstrong with Joe Glaser, there has never been an instance in jazz of so long a relationship between an artist and manager, and certainly not one involving so close a personal friendship.

In 1955, noting that jazz had achieved in a short time a notable degree of acceptance as an art form, with a jazz course instituted at North Texas State University, the appearance of Oscar Peterson at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Canada, performances by Dizzy Gillespie in Yugoslavia and by Louis Armstrong in Africa's Gold Coast (later Ghana), Leonard Feather wrote in Esquire mag­azine:

"That jazz, which a decade ago was hardly ever heard in a con­cert hall, far less recognized by the U.S. government, could have reached this summit of prestige and propaganda value was aston­ishing to some, incomprehensible to others. To many observers, however, it may have seemed like nothing more or less than a logi­cal outgrowth of the efforts on the part of one man to launch jazz as an international commodity. The man in question is Norman Granz, an irascible, slangy, expensively-casually-dressed, impul­sive, epicurean, much-hated and much-loved man who, at 38, is not only the world's foremost jazz impresario, but also can claim to have made more money exclusively from jazz than anyone else in its relatively short and turbulent history.

"Granz, who has often stated that his objectives are, in the order of their importance, to make money, to combat racial prejudice and to present good jazz, is an enigma whose many-sided character is known only to a few friends, mostly musicians who have worked for him over an extended period."

He has been described as a tight man with a dollar and bearer of grudges. His relations with the press have sometimes been abra­sive. Ted Williams, the great jazz photographer who was then on staff at Ebony, recalls that once in Chicago, angry for some reason at press photographers, Granz imposed the ingenious punishment of covering the spotlights with red gels, knowing that black-and-white film will not register red light. So the cameramen were effec­tively barred from photographing the concert. Many people, how­ever, cite examples of Granz's generosity, particularly to musicians whose work he values.

Oscar once said, "Norman is shy. People mistake this for arro­gance."

Granz is tall - six feet - and good-looking. His hair had thinned by his thirties. His eyebrows, which have repeatedly been described as Mephistophelean, curl up at their outer ends. Leo­nard Feather, in his Esquire portrait, noted his expression of "aloof disdain" and the succession of "pouting blondes" in Granz's life.

Granz was born in Los Angeles August 6, 1918, which makes him, like Oscar, a Leo. His family at the time lived near the Central Avenue area. They moved down the coast to Long Beach, where his father owned a department store, and later to the Boyle Heights district of central Los Angeles, a lower-middle-class area, where the family knew straitened circumstances after his father lost the store in the Depression.

Granz reminisced about Long Beach to Feather, saying it was "predominantly a Midwestern community in its thinking. We were one of about half a dozen Jewish families in the whole city. I remember there used to be a gag about all the retired businessmen from Iowa settling in Long Beach. And I think I remember the Ku Klux Klan used to parade there in their nightshirts. But I don't recall that it had any influence on me at all at the time. I suppose that the reason I can mix so easily with minority members arose from my playing with the kids on Central Avenue, when it was a heterogeneous district with all minorities represented.'' Granz says of the later part of his youth, "Mickey Cohen and I came from the same area in Boyle Heights. Mickey Cohen became a gangster; I didn't. Nobody forced him to become what he became."

Granz was graduated from Roosevelt High in Boyle Heights in 1935. He went to work in a brokerage office to earn the money to study at UCLA. "There was never enough money for a car," he told Feather, "so I spent the better part of my life in buses and streetcars. During daylight-saving time, with a three-hour time difference (between Los Angeles and New York) and Wall Street opening at ten, I'd have to be at work at six a.m. to get the board clean for a seven a.m. opening. In those days the clerks worked with chalk and chamois; we had no automatic boards. And during that time I played basketball at UCLA and stayed up at nights studying." Granz picked up invaluable financial insights during his days in that brokerage house.

Granz joined the United States Army Air Corps some months prior to Pearl Harbor. "The war was already on in Europe," he told me in 1987. "And I felt we would be drawn into it. They were put­ting out notices on the campus that if you enlisted, you could choose your branch of service. So I enlisted. It was obvious in the days after Pearl Harbor that I wasn't going to become a pilot. They gave you a choice. You could become a bombardier or get out of the Air Corps and wait for your draft call.

"So I took my discharge. I went to New York and discovered 52nd Street."

At the time, 52nd Street was like some kind of incredible fer­mentation vat for jazz. It was possible for Granz to walk from one club to another to see one great jazz player after another - many of whom he would later produce on records.

"Then I came back to Los Angeles," he continued, "and began to book my jam sessions at the Trouville Club. I got drafted about May, and I got Basie and Nat Cole to play for the draftees. Then I got shipped to Texas. I applied for officer's training. They did an IQ test on you and another for mechanical aptitude. I proved to be not very mechanical, but I apparently got a good score on the IQ and it looked like I was going to go to officer's training. The army was very segregated in those days, and I had begun to mix with a lot of the black GIs. My reputation for that had already begun with the night-clubs. And I found out I wasn't going to officer's training.

"As a company clerk, I had access to a lot of literature. I came across a regulation that said if you had applied for officer's training and been rejected, you could apply for a discharge on the grounds that if you weren't good enough to be an officer you weren't good enough for the army, which I thought was extremely strange rea­soning. But I applied for it and got my discharge in 1943 and started my things in Los Angeles." He was twenty-four years old. Granz had been a big-band fan until he heard the famous Coleman Hawkins record of Body and Soul in 1939. This remarkable record­ing was one of the harbingers of the bebop revolution that would arrive within five years. In any case, it was Granz's introduction to small-group jazz at its most creative.

But his reason for becoming an impresario, he has repeatedly said, was less a love of music than a sense of social outrage. Though black jazz musicians were playing all over Los Angeles, they were doing so largely before white audiences - many places would not let blacks enter as customers. This condition existed in ChicagoKansas City, and most American cities. In Los Angeles, the discrimination was as fully institutionalized as it was in the American South: it was the firm and simple policy of night-clubs not to admit black patrons. And, as we have noted, the same policy often applied in Canadian clubs and dance halls.

Granz had been presenting occasional jam sessions at the Trou­ville Club, in the Beverly-Fairfax area of Los Angeles. He was par­ticularly disturbed by the tears of Billie Holiday after its manage­ment refused to let some of her black friends come in to hear her.

Finally, Granz went to Billy Berg, a well-known night-club operator, with a proposal. Granz was aware that a new union ruling required that regularly employed musicians be given one night a week off. "Give me Sunday nights when the club is dark and the house band is off," he told Berg, "and I’ll give you a jam session and a crowd of paying customers." Berg expressed interest.

Granz attached three conditions to the deal. First, rather than use drop-in musicians playing for pleasure, he wanted the players to be employed and paid, which would allow him to advertise them in advance; second, tables were to be placed on the dance floor, which would make it impossible to do anything but listen; third, the club would be opened to black as well as white patrons, and not only on Sunday night but all week. Berg agreed.

"I think the cats got $6 each," Granz recalled. "And those were good days for getting musicians in Los Angeles. Duke Ellington's band was around town; Jimmie Lunceford's men were available; Nat Cole, who had the trio at the 331 Club, was my house pianist; Lester Young and his brother Lee were regulars."

Drummer Lee Young described Granz at that time as "a real Joe College type, with the brown-and-white shoes, the open collar, the sweater and the general Sloppy Joe style; he was just a guy that was always around, and at first we wondered what he did for a living. He was a lone wolf. We'd drink malteds together - neither of us ever drank liquor - and before long I'd be going over to his side of town and he'd be visiting mine, and we'd be playing tennis."

The late Nat Cole knew Granz as far back as 1941. "He'd bring a whole bunch of records over and we'd listen to them together and have dinner," Cole told Leonard Feather. Cole's stature as a singer has completely overshadowed his importance as a pianist. Cole was to have an enormous influence on Oscar Peterson, and on Bill Evans as well, which fact alone defines him as one of the substantial formative forces in jazz history. He had not begun to sing when Granz first knew him. Cole said: "He had that sloppy Harvard look, and even in those days he wouldn't knuckle down to anybody. A lot of people disliked him, but I understood his attitude; he just knew what he wanted and exactly how he was going to get it. I remember when the booking agents used to call him a capitalistic radical, which of course wasn't right."


Sunday became Billy Berg's most lucrative night of the week, a success that was not unnoticed by other club owners. Other clubs had different dark nights, and Granz set up a circuit of them for his musicians, putting himself in an advantageous situation with own­ers, for whom he made money, and with musicians, whom he was able to offer four or five nights of work a week.

In early 1944, Granz initiated a series of jazz concerts at a place called Music Town in South Los Angeles. He presented, along with his regulars, musicians from visiting bands, including the tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet, at that time known chiefly for his work with Lionel Hampton and Cab Galloway.

At this time, twenty-one young Chicanos had been arrested after what the press called the "Zoot Suit Riots," charged with murder, convicted, and imprisoned in San Quentin. The case became a cause celebre in southern California, and a defence fund was established. Granz remembered: "There were so many kids accused that it smacked of a prejudice case. Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth and a lot of other Hollywood people were involved in the thing, which was called the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee. I didn't even remember where Sleepy Lagoon was, and I didn't know what the hell was going on with the case, but it did seem to be a prejudice case, and this was a chance to try out one of my ideas, which was to put on a jazz concert at the Philharmonic."

The concert was held at Philharmonic Auditorium on a Sunday afternoon in July. The cast of musicians included Nat Cole, who was on the verge of enormous commercial success; Les Paul, then known as a jazz guitarist, who would later sell his highly commer­cial overdubbed guitar-and-vocal records in the millions; pianist Meade Lux Lewis, one of the great boogie-woogie masters; and saxophonist Jacquet, whose screaming high notes, according to Down Beat, sent the audience of young people wild. The concert raised $500 for the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Fund.

For the rest of that year Granz presented Jazz at the Philhar­monic as a monthly event. The following year, as World War Two approached its end, he took his company of players on a tour of the West Coast, which got as far as VictoriaBritish Columbia - and heard Oscar for the first time, on a juke-box. "But it broke me," Granz said. "I had to hock everything I owned to get the musicians back." It should be noted that other impresarios in similar condi­tions have been known to leave their artists stranded. It is also nota­ble that Granz by now had something to hock.

His reverses were temporary. He was about to become a significant factor in the record industry.

Granz had tried to sell various companies on releasing material recorded in his Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concerts. Experi­enced record men thought the idea was ridiculous - you didn't put out "live" recordings of concerts complete with applause and other audience noises.

Granz went to New York carrying a stack of his JATP record­ings. This was before the general use of electromagnetic tape in the record industry, and the music was on bulky twelve-inch acetate discs. He opened the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory at record companies, the first one of which, in the alphabetical sequence, happened to be Asch Records, owned by the late Moses Asch. Granz telephoned him and made an appointment. He was trying to sell records from another session he had supervised, this one by singer Ella Logan. Asch had no interest in this material but, as Granz was about to leave his office, asked about the other batch of records he was carrying under his arm. Granz unwrapped and played How High the Moon from one of his JATP concerts. "Asch flipped," Granz recalled to Feather. "He put the records out as Volume One of Jazz at the Philharmonic, and it was incredibly pop­ular. I imagine it sold about 150,000 albums, but I never got an accounting, because Asch eventually not only lost the rights, he lost his whole company."

The record, which featured a long solo by Illinois Jacquet and the drumming of Gene Krupa - billed as "Chicago Flash" because he was under contract to another label, though most young jazz fans knew who it was - had an enormous impact. This was the first jazz-concert recording ever issued. (The recording of the famous Benny Goodman 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall was not released until 1950.) And How High the Moon became for a time a sort of national anthem of jazz.

The period saw the sundown of the big bands and rising interest in small-group jazz played by veterans of those bands. Granz was the right man at the right place at the right time to take advantage of the situation. One of the main causes of the decline of the big bands was the spreading business failure of the ballrooms and dance pavilions that operated on the outskirts of cities all over North America, which in turn was caused by the conspiracy of automotive, tire, and road-building interests to buy up and dis­mantle the superb interurban trolley systems that, among other things, carried young audiences to those locations. Jazz had to take to the night-clubs in small-group formats: there was nowhere else for it to go, excepting concert halls.

And it was Granz who opened their stage doors for jazz musicians. He was the first producer to present small-group jazz with the emphasis on improvisation, as opposed to the orchestrated big-band form of it, in a touring com­pany. After the success of How High the Moon, Granz's players began criss-crossing the continent.

In 1947, when he was twenty-nine, Granz met a tall blonde girl named Loretta Snyder Sullivan, who was passing out leaflets at a JATP concert in SaginawMichigan. Granz proposed to her the next night. They were married almost a year later, and in 1949, in Detroit, she became the mother of his daughter. They were divorced in 1952. Loretta later complained that he never took his mind off his business.

"Moreover," she told Feather, "I was ill-advised enough to tell him I disliked some of his records."

From the very beginning, Granz was criticized for appealing to the lowest level of jazz-audience taste, with emphasis on the high-note tenor of Illinois Jacquet and, later, drum battles between Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.

"The critics used to review the audience as harshly as the musi­cians," Granz told writer John McDonough in an interview pub­lished in Down Beat in 1979. "They criticized them for cheering too loud, whistling too much and so on. And they accused the musicians and myself of soliciting this kind of behavior from the crowds.
I used to answer reviews like that, because they ignored so many other aspects of the presentation. They said Illinois Jacquet and Flip Phillips played differently in the jam sessions than they did with [Lionel] Hampton or Woody Herman. That was non­sense. Critics would ignore a set by Lennie Tristano, hardly a panderer to public tastes; a set by Ella Fitzgerald, who did mostly ballads; or a set by Oscar Peterson or the Modern Jazz Quartet."

Granz would sometimes stride angrily onstage and tell an audi­ence the concert would not continue until they became quiet. The jazz fans of Paris are notoriously unruly, and Granz had one of his most memorable confrontations with a crowd there, at the Theatre des Champs Elysees.

Clarinetist Buddy de Franco was performing with the Oscar Peterson Trio. "The French felt that no white man could play jazz anyway," Granz said as he recalled the incident. "Buddy got into a solo on Just One of Those Things" - Granz always remembers what tune was being played at the time of any given incident - "and just couldn't get out of it. That happens to people sometimes. It was a very fast tempo, and Buddy just kept going. The trio started to exchange glances. The audience began to get restless, then they started whistling and throwing coins. I don't know how they stopped it, I think Oscar just went clunk on the piano and ended it. Buddy came offstage just shaking, he was very hurt. And I got mad.

"I got out a chair and went out onstage and sat down. First of all, I told them I wasn't going to speak French to them. And then I said, 'Okay, and I'll tell you something else. You paid me a certain amount of money for two hours of music. I already have your money in my pocket, and I am not going to give it back. This con­cert ends at five o'clock. Whether you want to listen to this yelling or to music is up to you.' And gradually they began to shush each other up, which is the way it had to be done, and the concert went on.

"I had a number of friends at that concert. One of them was the screenplay writer Harry Kurnitz. He said to me afterwards, 'I've never seen anything like it. That's the first time anybody ever got the best of a French audience.'"

In 1955, Granz said, "I don't like to talk about exciting an audi­ence, because it always implies melting. Jazz has always been, to me, fundamentally the blues and all the happy and sad emotions it arouses. I dig the blues as a basic human emotion, and my concerts are primarily emotional music. I've never yet put on a concert that didn't have to please me, musically, first of all. I could put on as cerebral a concert as you like, but I'd rather go the emotional route. And do you know, the public's taste reflects mine - the biggest flop I've ever had in my life was the tour I put on with some of the cere­bral musicians like Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan."

That statement takes on a certain irony when read today: not long thereafter the Dave Brubeck Quartet became so hugely suc­cessful that it made the cover of Time and fell under criticism for "being commercial." And Gerry Mulligan would become compar­ably popular; Granz would himself record Mulligan.

In earlier times, jazz was kept firmly segregated: white players never appeared onstage with black players, except in after-hours clubs where they could go to jam. The first integrated orchestra was organized in 1937 in Scheveningen, Holland, by Benny Car­ter, who used white European and black American and Caribbean jazz players. Within a few years, Benny Goodman was featuring Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, and Charlie Christian with his band, Artie Shaw hired Hot Lips Page, and Tommy Dorsey hired Sy Oliver - all examples of black players joining white bands. Finally, Count Basic hired Buddy Rich, an early example of a white player in a black band, and Dizzy Gillespie from his early days as a leader manifested indifference to color in his hiring practices.

Granz perceived that integrating the performers was not enough: audiences had to be integrated as well. And he used the economic power that JATP gave him to do it. Promoters seeking to book his concerts were presented with contracts forbidding dis­crimination at the door. JATP played the first concert for an integrated audience in the history of CharlestonSouth Carolina. Granz cancelled a New Orleans concert when he learned that while blacks were being sold tickets, they would be segregated from the white audience. He put his artists up at the best hotels, often hotels that had previously been barred to blacks, and moved them from one engagement to another by airline, rather than the long dreary bus rides that are among the many ordeals of the jazz life, and on at least one known occasion he chartered a plane to get his company out of a southern city after a concert rather than let it spend a night under Jim Crow conditions.

In 1947, Granz set up the first of what would prove to be a series of record companies, Clef Records, which was distributed by Mer­cury Records, a Chicago company. He commissioned the brilliant graphic artist David Stone Martin to design the album covers of the new label. Martin turned in a memorable series of pen-and-brush drawings in his distinctive spidery line style, which had a curiously improvisatory quality that suited it well to the subject matter and made him as famous among jazz fans as the musicians he portrayed. Martin's vivid drawing of a trumpet player in the throes of creation, seen from a low left angle, became the logo of Clef Records. And Granz too became as famous as any of his art­ists.

This, then, was the formidable figure, a tall, good-looking, very famous self-made millionaire at thirty-one, who came to hear Oscar Peterson at the Alberta Lounge, and took him off to Carne­gie Hall in September 1949.

In the aftermath of the Carnegie concert, Granz, already Peterson's manager, had many offers for the pianist's services. He passed them up, urging Oscar to return for the time being to Can­ada.

He said, "I think you've done it now, but let's just cool it. Let's do this properly. I want to find out first what direction you want to go in. Then we'll sit down and talk sensibly about the things I think you should be thinking about doing. There's plenty of time. You've done it now, you've garnered the attention."

And Oscar went home to Canada - with a partner. Ray Brown.”


Thursday, February 20, 2014

[More] Eddie Daniels: [Still] Masterful and Magnificent

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles was reminded of Eddie's brilliant clarinet playing during its recent re-posting of a piece on Buddy DeFranco.

How can you go wrong with revisiting Eddie Daniels and Buddy DeFranco in the same week?

Since the video that concludes this piece was developed in August, 2011, it has received over 34,000 "hits" [views], a number that we along with the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz LTD and the production facilities at StudioCerra are very proud of.

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


“Daniels’ clarinet sound is exemplary, as everyone knows: throaty but not too throaty down low and mellow but not too mellow up top .… His execution [is almost]  flawless no matter how resourcefully his imagination roams, or how swift the tempo. He woos the ear rather than wrestled it, daring, in this post-Coltrane world, to please…and even to elaborate on (get ready) the melody.”
- Tony Gieske

“Eddie Daniels is truly a phenomenon. Musically, he is matchless in his proficiency, accuracy, technique, and purity of style in both jazz and classical arenas. On an artistic level, his drive to be the best has earned him a position unequaled by any of his contemporaries. On a personal level, it is frequently evident that he is intent on this purpose.
His often gentle, resonant, speaking voice sometimes hides this constant, under-the-surface intensity, but conversation with Eddie soon reveals his passion and enthusiasm for life-love: his music performance. His enthusiasm for his mission seems unlimited.
A certain sense of humor belies his seriousness about his chosen path and reveals a tinge of mischievousness which characterizes his demeanor and displays itself in his playing.”
- Kim Richmond

“Eddie Daniels is a rare example of a post-bop musician specializing on clarinet.”
- Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.

Sometimes I write from recollection.

As the years go by this can be a dangerous source, therefore, the following story may be fact or it may be fiction.

In either case, it’s a great story and if it isn’t true, then I’m happy to be writing it into fiction.

Although his principal instrument is the clarinet, when Eddie Daniels first joined the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Orchestra, he did so as a member of its saxophone section.

Unlike the Glenn Miller, Swing Era days, there was little call for clarinets in modern big band arrangements except to add a bit of “color” here and there.

So Eddie went on Thad and Mel’s band as a tenor saxophonist

One night when Eddie’s solo turn came up on Thad’s Little Pixie following those of saxophonists Joe Farrell, Jerry Dodgion and Jerome Richardson, instead of taking it on tenor saxophone, for whatever reason, he decided to take the solo on clarinet.


Eddie’s clarinet solo knocked everybody out, so much so that he was urged to take more and more solos on the instrument [this despite the fact that Thad Jones was no fan of the clarinet as a solo instrument].

After leaving Thad and Mel’s orchestra and gigging around New York for a few years, Eddie was eventually able to reunite was his first “love” and launch a “new” career as a Jazz clarinetist in the 1980s when he became a GRP recording artist.

Eddie Daniels is in good company as a number of brilliant Jazz saxophonists, notably, Lester Young, Art Pepper and Phil Woods [who majored in clarinet at Julliard], have also performed on the instrument.

But Eddie took it the other way and I’m sure glad he did.

To put it in somewhat dated bop-speak: Eddie is a gas on the axe.

And, as a result of playing it more, he just got better and better and better.

Clarinet is a wickedly difficult instrument to play, let alone to play well. Squeaks and squawks abound as does bad intonation and reedy tones.

Impoverished, improvisatory ideas make some clarinetists sound as though they are in a death struggle with the instrument and are trying to strangle it.

But in Eddie Daniels’ hands, I am reminded once again of how magnificent the instrument could sound when played by masters like Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Buddy DeFranco.

Oddly enough, Eddie and I have a common starting point in Jazz – Benny Goodman.

“Benny Goodman was my first idol,” Eddie said to Leonard Feather in the insert notes to Daniels’ GRP CD with Gary Burton entitled Benny Rides Again [GRD-9665].


“Most people who know my music might not think that, but between the ages of 13 and 15, I was inspired by him. He really blew me away! I had all his records. Later, I moved the away from Benny a bit and got into Bird [Charlie Parker], [John] Coltrane and [Sonny] Rollins.

A similar sequence of events happened in my life, although, in my case, it was drummer Gene Krupa with Benny Goodman’s band serving as an early inspiration and not Benny, himself.

Here’s a little more background on Eddie’s career as written by Leonard Feather in the Benny Rides Again insert notes:

“Few musicians can claim to have scaled the heights twice, on two different instruments, in the course of a single career. Eddie Daniels has that remarkable and possi­bly unique distinction.

In 1966 he took part in an international jazz competition held in Vienna, and won first prize — as a tenor saxophon­ist. Today, of course, he has numerous awards to his credit as a clarinetist and has virtually given up the sax.

Throughout most of his career, until 1986 (the year his Breakthrough album was released on GRP), Daniels had divided his time between the two horns. He studied alto and then clarinet as a pre-teenager. He earned clarinet credits while at the High School for The Performing Arts in New York, and in 1957, just before his sixteenth birth­day, he played alto sax with Marshall Brown's Newport Youth Band.

He earned an MA in 1966 after study­ing clarinet at Julliard, and in that year he became one of the pillars of the sax section in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestra, playing tenor. 'Thad really didn't want me to play clarinet,’ he recalls, ‘but on one record I did man­age to get a short solo — and that one opportunity was enough to earn me a “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” listing in the clarinet category of the Downbeat poll.’

Daniels was never satisfied to be pigeonholed in one area. He studied classical flute for ten years. His men­tors included Julius Baker, Harold Bennett and Thomas Nyfenger. He even took up trombone and played it on a record with La Playa Sextet.
After leaving Jones/Lewis in 1973, he took up a variety of jobs in and around New York, but the decision to concen­trate on clarinet became a turning point that enabled him to acquire a new and distinct image.”


And here are some excerpts from an interview with Eddie which was conducted by Kim Richmond, the wonderful saxophonist based in Los AngelesCA, and published in the May/June 1995 edition of The Saxophone Journal. You can locate more about Kim by visiting www.kimrichmond.com and back issue order information to obtain a copy of the full article at www.dornpub.com.

“Eddie Daniels is truly a phenomenon. Musically, he is matchless in his proficiency, accuracy, technique, and purity of style in both jazz and classical arenas. On an artistic level, his drive to be the best has earned him a position unequaled by
any of his contemporaries. On a personal level, it is frequently evident that he is intent on this purpose. His often gentle, resonant, speaking voice sometimes hides this constant, under-the-surface intensity, but conversation with Eddie soon reveals his passion and enthusiasm for life-love: his music performance. His enthusiasm
for his mission seems unlimited. A certain sense of humor belies his seriousness about his chosen path and reveals a tinge of mischievousness which characterizes his demeanor and displays itself in his playing. Several years ago he made the decision that the clarinet would be his exclusive instrument. During the next few years, he established himself as the jazz clarinetist on the scene, as well as a high contender in the classical field. In the last two years, he has resumed performing on tenor saxophone as well, much to the delight of his many saxophone fans.” …

What was behind your decision to go, several years back, with the clarinet exclusively?

Well, the clarinet is a great challenge as an instrument, an unlimited challenge;
it just doesn’t yield. I tend to be a stickler for punishment. I like punishment. The saxophone yields easier, not that it’s an easy instrument, because it’s not easy to play musically, but I felt that maybe I could do something unique and play the clarinet in a way that would make people more inspired to want to play the instrument.

It seems to me that you bring so much more to the jazz clarinet because of your
classical background.

That was the way I was taught to do it. I can’t let myself play any instrument
until I can really master the sound of that instrument. I look at the jazz sound as coming out of the classical sound, as really being controlled, beautiful, manipulative, and colorful. Most people approach the clarinet from just the jazz sound; they make
one kind of color. It’s a kind of “woofy” sound. I have, however, recently returned to performing the saxophone. It was at the request of friends. Also, I want to expand my audience a little more.


I know of people who wouldn’t listen to you because they were not fans of the clarinet, perhaps because of other jazz clarinet players they had heard and didn’t
care for.

That’s right. Also, I felt that because I had become a clarinet player I was kind out of the “fold.” To the young jazz student in school, the clarinet is still a strange instrument; the saxophone isn’t. The saxophone is so much a part of my bloodstream that it unites me with young people a little bit more directly; then I can introduce the clarinet to them. Saxophone players didn’t relate to me that much. Now that I’m back to playing tenor again, we speak the same language. I’m playing their instrument. I’m loving the tenor. I feel like I have a special affinity for that instrument and I’m having a great time playing it. Now I can go to colleges and talk to kids who play the saxophone. I’m a saxophone player; they identify with me. I can transmit something of what I feel about good saxophone sound because the saxophone has gone in a certain direction lately that I’m not so pleased with.

What is that?

I love Michael Brecker’s playing, but every student has tried to become a Michael Brecker clone. He’s an amazingly great player, but he’s not the only direction. They have kind of gone away from what the tenor really was meant to sound like. Not that I’m really the one to make it sound that way, but there was Ben Webster, Getz, and Coltrane. You know, there’s a whole gamut of other sounds and this whole, funky, fusion, tenor sound that they’re all going towards is great for Brecker, but not great for everybody. ….

“Eddie Daniels is unquestionably included among the very best musicians on the scene today. He is an excellent example of the results of talent, hard work and drive.

Herb Mickman [bassist and Eddie’s close musical companion from their formative years] has a multitude of anecdotes about Eddie dating back to those early days.

He sums it up best when he says: ‘Eddie’s goal in life is to be better than himself!’”

I’m glad that Eddie brought the clarinet back into Jazz.

Maybe you will also feel that way after listening to him play I Fall in Love Too Easily and East of the Sun in the following tributes.