Brother Bennett

LOU BENNETT ON YOUTUBE –

Organist Lou Bennett’s popularity in Europe has always been much bigger than in the United States. Bennett was born in Philadelphia in 1926, a pianist who took up the organ after seeing Jimmy Smith in 1956. Before he was able to gain a foothold in the USA, Bennett migrated to Europe in 1960. His first album, Amen!, a cooperation with fellow expat and drummer Kenny Clarke, got him off to a good start. Bennett gained a large following in France, recording and performing regularly. He lived in Paris and Spain and passed away in 1997 in the little town of Le Chesnay just outside Paris, France.

Bennett smoothly mixed a thorough bebop proficiency with his gospel roots. He is also recognized as one of the greatest players of the bass pedals and of the inventor of the Bennett Machine, a pioneering hybrid of electronic devices and the Hammond organ’s construction.

During one of those half hours in between surfing on YouTube that all fans of music are familiar with, I stumbled upon interesting footage of Lou Bennett on YouTube.

Hear Bennett in Paris with guitarist Elek Bacsik and drummer Franco Manchetti, performing Brother Daniel.

With drummer Kenny Clarke performing Tadd Dameron’s Lady Bird.

And performing Zonky, Satin Doll and Broadway with Kenny Clarke, guitarist Jimmy Gourley and the incomparable Brew Moore at the Blue Note Club in Paris, France in 1961 here.

More on Bennett coming up this month in Flophouse Magazine. Stay tuned!

Eddie Chamblee - The Rocking Tenor Sax Of Eddie Chamblee

Eddie Chamblee The Rocking Tenor Sax Of Eddie Chamblee (Prestige 1964)

Party time with Eddie Chamblee.

Eddie Chamblee - The Rocking Tenor Sax Of Eddie Chamblee

Personnel

Eddie Chamblee (tenor saxophone), Dayton Shelby (organ), Al Griffin (drums)

Recorded

on February 27, 1964 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7321 in 1964

Track listing

Side A:
The Honeydripper
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Softly, As I Love You
Bye Bye Blackbird
Side B:
Champin’
Skang!
Soon
Little Things Mean A Lot


Eddie Chamblee was born in Atlanta in 1920. He was the featured tenorist on Sonny Thompson’s big hits Long Gone and Late Freight and played in the groups of Lionel Hampton, Cozy Cole, Amos Milburn, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, Machito and singer Dinah Washington, with whom Chamblee was married for a short period. While leading his own groups, the tenor saxophonist played on r&b and doowop tunes, notably by The Diamonds and The Drifters. The liner notes writer of The Rocking Tenor Sax mentions two funny details. Firstly, Chamblee is the tenor saxophonist that the viewer notices standing beside Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim’s movie And God Created Woman. Secondly, Chamblee performed at the Inaugaration Party of President Eisenhower in 1956. If you had to choose between one of these supporting roles, which one would it be? Rejoining Hampton in the eighties, Chamblee was further associated with Milt Buckner and Count Basie. Chamblee passed away in 1999.

Prior to his affiliation with Prestige, Chamblee recorded two albums for EmArcy, Chamblee Music and Doodlin’. The Rocking Tenor Sax is Chamblee’s only album as a leader in the sixties. The title is a great reflection of the kind of roaring live gigs one could experience in those days. It isn’t live-in-performance but it feels that way. Obviously, the legendary engineer Rudy van Gelder at work here, beware that no one took notice of his innovative recording methods, rarely invited neighbours, relatives or friends. Would’ve been one hell of a party.

Soul jazz grew out of swing, r&b and modern jazz. Generally speaking, it was an Afro-American phenomenon, a type of music that was enjoyed in clubs and bars around the country but particularly popular in the Mid-West. Though there’s no mistaking that most players had a solid background in modern jazz, (by the way, part of the work of giants of jazz like Cannonball Adderley or Sonny Stitt is also categorized as soul jazz – Adderley’s Jive Samba was a big hit) entertainment was key. Soul jazz was, first and foremost, accessible, finger-poppin’, foot-tappin’, hip-shakin’ music for a night out into town. The pioneering, relatively small independent record companies presented a catalogue of blues, ballads, American songbook and popular tunes – groove music. Prestige, Blue Note and Argo/Cadet possessed a good distribution network and carried their stock to radio stations and the jukebox circuit, hoping for a hit record or single. A hit didn’t necessarily have to be an original composition. There are many examples of interpretations of hits by artists which also turned into big sellers. The Honeydripper, the opening cut from Eddie Chamblee’s Prestige album is a case in point. It was a hit for the original writer, Joe Liggins. Soon after, Roosevelt Sykes made a successful version. The take on the contagious r&b melody by Eddie Chamblee didn’t lead to skyrocketing sales. But no doubt, his rousing version blows the roof off the joint.

Said Honeydripper has Chamblee climaxing early but not necessarily too soon, if you know what I mean. Chamblee’s got plenty of juice, honking his way through the choruses and the rocking 4/4 bottom that drummer Al Griffin provides. Chamblee alternates growls with screeching high notes, a specialty that Chamblee demonstrates on other tunes on the album as well. There goes Van Gelder’s Delft Blue tableware. Chamblee shows no signs of fatigue, providing effective swing riffs behind organist Dayton Shelby, who’s quite the musical rebel rouser himself.

It’s easy to imagine Chamblee’s trio perform at one of the dingier clubs on The Street. Some colorful cat offers a beauty a drink, the chatter of customers pierces little holes in the cigarette smoke clouds… And Chamblee bounces through his original tunes Champin’ and Skang!, the former a sleazy jump blues, the latter a slow, down-home blues. There’s the hard rock (like, hard rock) of Bye Bye Blackbird, courtesy of the bulldozer drum patterns by Al Griffin. And while Softly As I Leave You is a pretty sapless attempt to balladeer gent and dame into the French Kissin’ zone, embellished by lachrymose organ playing, Soon finds a soft spot in the heart. The Gershwin composition is gracefully marked by Chamblee’s velvet yet peppery lines and beautifully inflected notes. Here Chamblee has reached a synthesis between suppleness and groove. Soon is the highlight of The Rocking Tenor Sax Of Eddie Chamblee, but it can’t hurt to keep the remainder of the repertory in mind for a house party. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Listen to the full album on YouTube here. And to Eddie Chamblee on Spotify below:

Lee Morgan - The Cooker

Lee Morgan The Cooker (Blue Note 1957)

Just twenty-years of age, Lee Morgan came into his own as a leader on his 1957 album The Cooker.

Lee Morgan - The Cooker

Personnel

Lee Morgan (trumpet), Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone), Bobby Timmons (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Recorded

on September 29, 1957 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 1578 in 1958

Track listing

Side A:
Night In Tunesia
Heavy Dipper
Side B:
Just One Of Those Things
Lover Man
New-Ma


To be sure, the young lion had already arrived as one of the hottest cats on the scene. Two weeks prior to the September 29 session of The Cooker, Morgan played on John Coltrane’s Blue Train session on September 15. Nice work if you can get it. That summer, Morgan had played his last gigs with the Dizzy Gillespie band, which he had been part of since the spring of 1956, appearing on Dizzy In Greece, Birks’ Works and Dizzy Gillespie At Newport. Around that time, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson recommended the Philadelphians Lee Morgan, pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jimmy Merritt to Art Blakey, whose career could use a boost. The rest is history. Morgan played with The Jazz Messengers from 1958 to ’61 and 1964 to ’65, contributing to landmark albums as Moanin’ and Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World. The Cooker already was Morgan’s sixth album as a leader, his fifth for Blue Note, preceded by City Lights and followed by Candy. On the preceding albums many of the tunes were written by expert tunesmith Benny Golson. The Cooker presents the first Morgan compositions on wax: Heavy Dipper, a long flowing melody which shows the influence of Golson, a very swinging tune. And New-Ma, a mid-tempo blues with a twist, a tune that begs to be played by Ray Charles, a feat that naturally values the song as highly recommended.

Make this one of those albums to put on if you, like Art Blakey so many years hence, need a boost. Leave that Red Bull be, sugar kills, jazz feeds. Morgan and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams absolutely deliver food for the soul, the pairing of Morgan’s buoyant, hip and urgent style with Adams’s husky, dynamic baritone playing is a meeting of high and low registers in creamy, relaxed themes that’s very satisfying. Then there’s Philly Joe Jones, crips, dirty, probing. A fast take of Just One Of Those Things has Philly Joe nudging Morgan with propulsive ride cymbalism, sparse snare rolls and feathered bass, subsequently stoking up the fire and seducing Morgan to turn in blistering hot runs. Such a pleasant stay ensembles have in front of Philly Joe Jones’s kit. Like gliding above the Alps on the wings of a hawk.

Timmons’s crafty blues tale during the ballad Lover Man makes tasteful use of space and silence. Silence, it must be noted, is of equal importance in jazz than the notes. Paul Chambers sounds delighted, embellishing the loping tempo of the ballad’s middle section with fat, exquisite phrases. Pepper Adams bops hard, evoking Charlie Parker in Just One Of Those Things. Lee Morgan is thrilling throughout and killer bee during Night In Tunesia, the album’s highlight. Stimulated by the sparkling cross-rhythmic groove of Jones and Chambers, which only occasionally gives in to the release of a 4/4 section, Morgan’s entrance cracks nuts, whereupon Morgan joyfully excurses into a elongated section of double time. He ends with a honky-tonky coda that’s beautiful for its simplicity.

Morgan the ultimate cooker on trumpet? Convince me of the contrary. Regardless of some low points in his life due to his reckless drug abuse, he would keep burnin’ until that fateful day in 1972, when his common-law wife Helen Morgan fatally wounded the trumpeter by a gunshot at Slugs’ Saloon in New York City.

Julian Priester - Keep Swinging

Julian Priester Keep Swinging (Jazzland 1960)

No either/or for trombonist Julian Priester, who switches smoothly from avant-garde and fusion to hard bop, and back. His 1960 debut album on Riverside, Keep Swingin’, fits neatly in the latter category.

Julian Priester - Keep Swinging

Personnel

Julian Priester (trombone), Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)

Recorded

on January 11, 1960 at Plaza Sound Studio, New York City

Released

as RLP 12-316 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
24-hour leave
The End
1239A
Just Friends
Side B:
Bob T’s Blues
Under The Surface
Once In A While
Julian’s Tune


Here’s an open-minded gentleman who isn’t satisfied to keep playing in the same bag for the rest of his days. In high demand by stalwarts of modern jazz, Priester played and recorded with Max Roach, Art Blakey, Johnny Griffin, Blue Mitchell, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, Clifford Jordan, Stanley Turrentine and McCoy Tyner. Then too he was part of Sun Ra’s orchestra on and off from 1956 to 1995. In the early 70s, Priester held the trombone chair in the Duke Ellington Orchestra. One year – 1969 – Priester was featured on organist Lonnie Smith’s The Turning Point, the other – 1970 – he joined the experimental Mwhandishi band of Herbie Hancock for three years. Priester cooperated with Charlie Haden, Eddie Henderson, Dave Holland and Anthony Braxton. Yet, his teenage years in Chicago, where Priester was born in 1935, were spent on stage with blues and r&b legends as Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. Well, avant-garde doesn’t mean anything if it at least has a semblance of the roots, right? Right. Discussion forum’s open. Draft or bottle?

One can imagine what attracted Duke Ellington to Julian Priester. Priester is skilled in the modern approach of pioneer J.J. Johnson, not a specialist of certain techniques like the earlier Ellington trombonists, but his sound is tart and joyful. His fluent lines have sustained swing and his phrases have built-in blues feeling. In 1960, while he was part of Max Roach’s group, Priester set himself in the limelight with two releases. Generally, Spiritsville is the album that gets the attention on the world wide jazz web. It’s a fine album that boasts the challenging tune Excursion and a great ballad reading by Priester of It Might As Well Be Spring. However, it’s weird that Keep Swingin’ is largely ignored.

There’s swing and then there’s swing. Spiritsville, with McCoy Tyner, Sam Jones and Art Taylor in tow, has no lack of it. Yet I feel that, somehow, the juices aren’t really flowing, the spirit is held in check by God knows what. Something between the devil and the deep blue Hudson River. Keep Swingin’ may not be a classic session, but it has the edge on Spiritsville.

The line-up includes tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Elvin Jones. The stars stood in the right spot, the time was right, the guys were in sync, in a happy mood, comfortable. The Detroit cats, Elvin Jones and Tommy Flanagan, were cracking jokes, is what one is liable to imagine. Because the mood is right. The session is relaxed yet urgent. There are a number of blues-based tunes like Heath’s 24-Hour Leave, Priester’s Bob T’s Blues, bop-inflected tunes like Priester’s The End, Under The Surface, Charles Davis’ 1239A, the standard Just Friends and the Edwards/Greene ballad Once In A While. Bob T’s Blues is a low-down mean slow blues.

Priester’s in-your-face handling of the Just Friends melody after the solos, coupled with his booming sound, is a gas. Jimmy Heath is fiery and gutsy. Flanagan is sprightly as spring water. His lines, full of ideas, move so effortlessly! Sam Jones and Elvin Jones are tight-knit and greasy, Elvin Jones is on top, teasing Sam like (although they’re not related) the older brother throwing curve balls to the kid brother with a bat that’s too big for comfort. They’re like a steam locomotive that, if asked for, could keep running from here to eternity, and back. Priester is at the wheel, smiling.

Julian Priester lives in New York City, where he plays and teaches.

Listen to Keep Swinging’ and Spiritsville back to back on Spotify below.

Eddie Baccus - Feel Real

Eddie Baccus Feel Real (Smash 1963)

Eddie Baccus is the Speedy Gonzales of the Hammond B3 organ. Still, Mr. Baccus keeps up a remarkable clarity of line, as can be heard on his 1963 album on Smash, Feel Real.

Eddie Baccus - Feel Real

Personnel

Eddie Baccus (organ), Mose Fowler (guitar), George Cook (drums), Charles Crosby (drums), Theoshis Tannis (flute B1)

Recorded

in October 1962 at Universal Recording Studios, Chicago

Released

as Smash 67029 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Feel Real
Out Of Nowhere
Stranger On The Shore
Blues At Dawn
Side B:
A Breath In The Wind
Flight 464
Phoebe
In A Minor Groove


For a long time now, it has been Eddie Baccus Sr. Until recently, the 81-year old, blind organist performed with his son, saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr. Baccus was born in Lawnsdale, North Carolina in 1936. Soon after birth, the young Eddie turned blind. He grew up in Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, where he came under the tutelage of Roland Kirk. Until then, Baccus was a pianist, but he took up the organ whilst in Kirk’s group. The group had a nine-month residency at the 100 Club in Cleveland. When Kirk went to New York to join Charles Mingus, Baccus remained in Ohio with drummer Charles Crosby. Kirk had recommended Baccus to Jack Tracy, label boss of Smash Records. And so Feel Real came about.

The only album by Eddie Baccus as a leader, Feel Real, features a tight-knit, cookin’ trio including guitarist Mose Fowler and drummer George Cook, who alternates with Baccus’s old pal Charles Crosby on a number of tunes. Baccus is a heated cat, functioning somewhat as the proverbial talented teenage organist that underlines the Baptist preacher’s fire-and-brimstone speeches in a church way down south. To be sure, it’s kind of a BOP church in a way. Plenty of greasy sermons are commented upon by quicksilver figures that very likely are grounded in Baccus’s past as a pianist who was influenced by Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. The bravura of Baccus is underlined by impeccable timing on top of the beat. The frenzied ‘more is more’ approach does, however, makes part of the congregation, not least the sinner at the desk of Flophouse Magazine, rather jittery. There’s a limit to stuffing multitudes of notes in a bar.

Fans of good old organ grooves will love Feel Real’s zest, expertise and diverse repertoire. Baccus provides a couple of catchy blues-based tunes that effectively make use of stop time. Feel Real is a delicious ditty, featuring Baccus as a NASCAR driver dangerously close to the boards, his tires practically burnt to pulp. His razor-sharp intro of Flight 464 is a gas. Blues At Dawn is a variation of Charles Brown’s Driftin’ Blues. It’s down-home stuff taken at a leisurely medium tempo, underscored by the in-your-face sound of the Baccus B3. The group puts a good groove into Out Of Nowhere. A lithe touch is added to the album in the guise of Roland Kirk’s A Breath In The Wind, a deconstruction of the traditional theme-solo-theme format that features lovely, breathy flute playing by one Theoshis Tannis. Obviously, Tannis is a pseudonym for Roland Kirk.

Baccus even takes a shot at Acker Bilk’s Stranger On The Shore. May sound like kitsch. But don’t worry, the waves washed plenty of sleaze and dirt to the coast line on this one too.

Listen to Feel Real, Blues At Dawn and A Breath In The Wind on YouTube.

Johnny Griffin - Grab This!

Johnny Griffin Grab This! (Riverside 1962)

Who knows what Johnny Griffin meant by calling his tune and album Grab This!. It might be jazz slang we’re not familiar with. Sounds positively like the equivalent of Up Yours!. Signifying the front instead of the rear end, to be sure. Regardless, ‘grab this’ is the only possible advice to real jazz customers. The tenor saxophonist’s 1962 Riverside album, coupling him with organist Paul Bryant, is one of the grittiest in his book.

Johnny Griffin - Grab This!

Personnel

Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone), Paul Bryant (organ), Joe Pass (guitar), Jimmy Bond (bass), Doug Sides (drums)

Recorded

on June 28, 1962 at Pacific Jazz Studio, Los Angeles

Released

as RLP 437 in 1962

Track listing

Side A:
Grab This!
63rd Street Theme
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
Side B:
Offering Time
These Foolish Things
Cherry Float


Label owner Orrin Keepnews liked Johnny Griffin very much. On the advice of Thelonious Monk, he had tried to sign “The Little Giant” in 1956, but Blue Note had been a step ahead. Griffin’s sparse but impressive stint at Blue Note consisted of three albums, A Blowing Session with John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Art Blakey being the absolutely epic standout. In 1958, Keepnews finally got hold of Griffin and offered him plenty opportunity to excel, placing him in differing contexts, from quintet to big band, from straightforward repertoire to folk or gospel concepts. (The Kerry Dancers, Big Soul Band) Simultaneously, Griffin recorded a string of tough tenor albums on the Riverside subsidiary label Jazzland with fellow tenorist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. As a result of Riverside’s bankruptcy in 1963, Griffin’s stretch with the label came to an end. Griffin, who had started with Lionel Hampton in the 40s, cooperated with Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey in the 50s, recorded prolifically as a leader but, embittered about the underappreciation of mainstream jazz at the expense of free jazz, settled in Europe, where he stayed for the rest of his life, one of the icons of hard bop tenor.

It was hard to compete with Johnny Griffin, monster tenor saxophonist, who really could bop someone in the ground at the breakneckest of tempos, meanwhile keeping clarity of line, double-timing with the hellhound on his trail. But obviously he was not just a technician, but instead a melodist that sincerely interpreted a song. Most of all, he was full of Charlie Parker and full of blues, a lava burst of indelible, wailing notes. Griffin was a lively, entertaining personality on stage, especially later in his career onwards from the 70s, whose relentless bop fests and meaty ballads were of a consistently high level and wildly exciting.

Coming from Chicago, it was natural for Griffin to put groove to good use. There’s no shortage of it on his next to last Riverside session, Grab This!, which also featured organist Paul Bryant, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Doug Sides, musicians who were working on the West Coast at the time. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and Griffin, veteran of the bands of Joe Morris, T-Bone Walker, Arnett Cobb, spreads an abundance of grease on the bright yellow soccer ball that was hanging above the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Likely, Griffin was in L.A. to perform, met a bunch of fine musicians, called Orrin Keepnews, ‘Say Keeps, want me to do a session with these cats? About time for a greasy affair, right!’

No complaints about the blues tunes that Griffin used for the occasion, particularly considering the meaty backing of drummer Doug Sides and the especially responsive accompaniment of organist Paul Bryant. Bryant is exceptional. He’s not just your run-of-the-mill-grinder, but instead accompanies responsively and uses a lot of space in his solos. The B3 sounds gutsy, in-your-face. Moreover, Bryant’s variation of sounds is striking. He contributes a gospel-tinged tune, Offering Time. In it, guitarist Joe Pass, who recorded on quite a number of soul jazz sessions before becoming a big name, and quite expertly and gritty too, quotes Things Ain’t What They Used To Be during his solo. Blues-based tunes are especially attractive breeding grounds for quotes and Paul Bryant had his say as well during Griffin’s flagwaver, Cherry Float, suavely embellishing his Hammond organ tale with a fragment of Thelonious Monk’s Rhythm-A-Ning.

Griffin breathes, quite literally too, life into the ballads Don’t Get Around Much Anymore and These Foolish Things. He’s having fun with the blues, juxtaposing bop clusters with belligerent shouts during his original tunes 63rd Street Theme and Grab This!. Grab This! is especially cool. Actually, it’s a definite ‘up yours’ to safe playing. Griffin’s phrases refreshingly pop out of the changes like the cork out of a champagne bottle, not once but over and over. Jazzy New Year. At the end of the party, Griffin somehow, a bit wobbly from the booze and dizzy from the firecrackers, lands on his feet. Bit of risk taking won’t hurt. Makes it all the more worthwhile. Got enough accountants already. There are no accountants on Grab This!, unless you count Orrin Keepnews, who counted the money and was finished awfully quick, having to file for a bankruptcy together with his associate Bill Grauer soon after. Nothing to be ashamed of. And lest we forget, Keepnews came back doggedly and successfully a couple of years later with Milestone records.

Full album on YouTube here

In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali

RECOMMENDATION – JORIS TEEPE

Bassist Joris Teepe has been living and working simultaneously in New York and Amsterdam since the 90s. As the only Dutch jazz musician of his generation, Teepe has enjoyed a fruitful career on the American scene. He has performed and recorded with, among others, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Charles McPherson, Harold Mabern, Billy Hart, Eric Alexander, Tom Harrell, Peter Bernstein, Mulgrew Miller and Randy Brecker. More and more, Teepe leaned to avant-garde jazz, particularly under the influence of drummer Rashied Ali. Rashied Ali was one of the big free jazz drummers. He is perhaps best known for his cooperation with John Coltrane on Interstellar Space. Teepe was part of Ali’s group from 2001 till 2009, when Ali passed away. His robust yet silken tone and fluid style keeps Teepe in high demand.

Now the bassist and composer has released the booklet and album In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali, a dedication to his mentor that also features saxophone players Wayne Escoffery, Johannes Enders and Michael Moore, guitarist Freddie Bryant and drummer John Betsch. The thoroughly instructive and well-designed booklet is written by John Weijers.

(Clockwise from left to right: Joris Teepe – In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali; Benny Golson & Joris Teepe; Rashied Ali & John Coltrane)

Teepe says: “You could say for me there is the period before Rashied and the period after Rashied.”

One rather cruel anecdote from Patricia Ali during her interview with Teepe and drummer George Schuller about the period during which Ali ran a club in New York City speaks volumes about the maverick spirit of the late avant-garde drummer (and Patricia!), who refused to be dictated by the whims of corporate labels:

“Rashied was into doing his own thing. He had his own recording company called Survival Records. He had his own publishing company, Ali Music. And then he wanted a club because there was no place for this type of music to be played at the time. You know, the Village Vanguard wasn’t really presenting that. So there was a lot of jazz, but no place for the Avant Garde. Rashied actually got a liquor license and so there was food and liquor. His partner Benny Wilson was wonderful. He did double-duty as Rashied’s bassist and part-time cook in the club.”
George: “And the club was exactly where the studio was?”
Patricia: “No…the club was on the first floor. There was the front door and then there was a ticket window, and that’s where the recording booth was. And then you went through another door, you couldn’t actually get into the club until you paid.”
George: “So the storefront, with the fashion boutique, is where the club was?”
Patricia: “Yes…that whole space. And in the back was the kitchen and also an area for musicians to hang out.”
George: “What came first, the club or the studio?”
Patricia: “The club, the studio wasn’t built until the 1980’s.”
Joris: “First, he was renting, right?”
Patricia: “Well, he rented both floors.”
Joris: “And then he wanted to buy the place, he got tired of the Mafia coming around…”
Patricia: “See, the Mafia kept track of local businesses by cigarette machines and by garbage collection.”
This was the common practice of a kind of neighborhood extortion by the Ma a in New York City at the time.
“So Rashied refused to have a cigarette machine in the place, and then he would take his own garbage to wherever you take garbage. And they did not like that. They broke his jaw at one point and they rammed his fingers, but luckily, he could still play. Then one day he sent me over there with one of the kids. I wanted them to see that we were a family. We had to pay $50 to someone over there. I went down there, looking very pathetic of course, because $50 was a lot for us at that time. So, we bought an ad in the local ‘neighborhood’ newspaper. And that seemed to settle the problems with the Mafia for us, because they could tell there wasn’t a huge amount of business going on here. They wanted their payment based on things like garbage and cigarette machines.”

In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali is released by Jazz Tribes. It is available on Amazon.

Check out the website of Joris Teepe here.