Ronnie Scott’s 1959-69

BOOK: RONNIE SCOTT’S 1959-69 –

Ronnie Scott’s is the stuff of legend, a jazz club that has been home to practically every modern jazz giant since 1959. The club in Soho, London U.K. was founded by saxophonist Ronnie Scott and celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019. Ronnie Scott’s is to British jazz what CBGB’s was to NYC punk, the Grand Ol’ Opry to Nashville country music and the nearby Marquee to British blues.

Reel Art Press released Ronnie Scott’s 1959-69, a book of photographs by Freddie Warren. It is edited by Graham Marsh and Simon Whittle. Whoever is singing that tune ‘I wanna present for Christmas’ now perhaps has found his desirable coffee table object.

Find Ronnie Scott’s 1959-69 here

The Doug Webb Trio Doug Webb In Holland (Daybreak 2019)

NEW RELEASE – DOUG WEBB TRIO

Doug Webb strives for structural perfection on his latest release with bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke, Doug Webb In Holland.

The Doug Webb Trio - Doug Webb In Holland

Personnel

Doug Webb (tenor saxophone), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)

Recorded

on November 20, 2018 at Studio De Smederij, Zeist

Released

as DBCHR 75228 in 2019

Track listing

254W. 82rd Street
Subconscious-Lee
Delilah
Invitation
Alexico
Ornithology
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
These Things
Get Out Of Town
Lunar Eclipse


Fashions, hypes, Indian ropes and hoo-ha about spiritual jazz drift past the consciousness of players like tenor saxophonist and woodwind player Doug Webb. That is, of course, because the Angeleno undoubtedly understands that to label jazz as spiritual is a contradiction in terms. By nature, jazz of any kind is a matter of the spirit. And it is, foremost, because Webb has for decades been steadily refining his art of mainstream jazz, undisturbed and very prolifically.

Webb played with Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Shelly Manne, Bill Holman and Stanley Clarke. He’s a real pro that was part of the Doc Severinsen Tonight Show band and is an omnipresent contributor to pop music and Hollywood soundtracks. Webb is a passionate woodwind specialist that plays, among others, piccolo, soprillo, saxello, sarrusophone and pretty much any flute with exotic name and characteristic he can put his hands on. As a tenor saxophonist, Webb contributes a fresh approach to the Coltrane tradition.

I coincidentally saw Webb perform at a session in Pavlov, The Hague in November, 2018 that included pianist Rein de Graaff, bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke. That night Webb explained that before returning to L.A. he would collect a contra alto flute and subcontra bass flute from an acclaimed flute maker in the little town of Grollo in the province of Drenthe. The day after the gig, Webb, Beets and Ineke went into the studio of Beets in Zeist to record Doug Webb In Holland.

It turned out to be a rewarding session of piano-less trio jazz. Webb selected Lee Konitz’ Subconscious-Lee, Victor Young’s Delilah, Kaper/Webster’s Invitation, Charlie Parker/Benny Harris’ Ornitology, Wolf/Landesman’s Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, Cole Porter’s Get Out Of Town and contributed four original compositions: lovely swinger 254W. 82nd Street, nifty boogaloo blues Alexico, All The Things You Are-variation These Things and Lunar Eclipse, which is based on Webb’s earlier tune Lunar – which was based on Solar, the composition that Miles Davis reportedly nicked from guitarist Chuck Wayne.

Rarely short of ideas, with the structured control of rhythm and harmony that brings to mind Warne Marsh, Webb revels in the company of two great companions. Ineke’s ability to translate his wealth of experience and massive knowledge of jazz history to sensitive and alert accompaniment is nonpareil. Beets’ choices of notes are spot-on and he takes a lot of melodic turns from low to upper register and vice versa. As a result, Delilah, featuring Beets on acoustic bass instead of double bass and Ineke with mallets, is a cushion-soft gem, beautified by Webb’s almost childlike lyricism. The mix of Webb’s witty statements and Ineke’s hard-swinging brushes of Ornitology and the probing, intriguing phrases – and paraphrases – that Webb spins on the gulf of ride cymbal and pulsing bass during These Things constitute but a few of In Holland’s highlights.

Webb has a lot of experience of playing and recording in the piano-less format. It worked out beautifully. Webb fills the unfolding space that is created by the absence of the piano with inexhaustible strings of lines. Here and there, a gravely microtone or valve effect is thrown in the equation, measured dots on the sentences of Webb’s concise stories. Webb has plenty of muscle but demonstrates the masterly wisdom of restraint. His layered poetry makes In Holland a serene experience, as if you’re listening to falling autumn leaves. Ineke and Beets sweep up the rustling leaves, gather the beautiful copies and arrange a pretty bouquet.

Harold Ousley

SPOTLIGHT ON HAROLD OUSLEY –

Get your hands together, let’s give a warm applause for Harold Ousley. The tenor saxophonist, born in Chicago in 1929, worked under the radar for much of his professional life. The names Ousley is affiliated with nonetheless say a lot about his capabilities. Ousley played with Billie Holiday, Gene Ammons, Miles Davis and Bud Powell. He operated in the r&b field in the 50s, recording with Dinah Washington and cooperating with Ruth Brown, Billy Williams and Jerry Lee Lewis. Ousley is featured on a couple of records by organist Brother Jack McDuff in the 60s and made a notable appearance on drummer Grassella Oliphant’s The Grass Roots in 1967, contributing no less than five tunes. He debuted as a leader on Bethlehem in 1960 with Tenor Sax, featuring baritone saxophonist Charles Davis, a solid album of mainstream jazz. See my review here.

It took Ousley twelve years to record a sophomore effort. Ousley added greasy funk to his mainstream jazz menu on The Kid (Cobblestone 1971) and Sweet Double Hipness (Muse 1972/80), which display a remarkable ability to sustain the pocket. All in all, Ousley’s discography consists of six albums as a leader. During the 1970s, Ousley was subsequently part of the Lionel Hampton and Count Basie bands. Ousley’s style is soulful, flexible and witty. His resonant and husky sound is very attractive. Attractive is a term that’s not inappropriate for some of Ousley’s record sleeves as well:

All joking and wanking apart, there has always been plenty of competition in the tenor sax department, which might have been one of the reasons why Ousley made a career switch in the 80s. He hosted the cable tv show Harold Ousley Presents and developed music therapy formats for the educational system.

Although his book isn’t extended, Ousley’s writing skills stand out. Both Oliphant and McDuff took a liking to his tunes, respectively recording five (on one album) and four Ousley compositions. He effectively combined quirky blues lines with stop time on One For The Masses and Mrs. O from Grassella Oliphant’s The Grass Roots. Ousley wrote a couple of nifty, danceable Latin-flavored tunes. Haitian Lady appeared on both Oliphant’s album and McDuff’s Walk On By, which also features the lively Carribean groove For Those Who Choose. Also from Oliphant’s album is the avant-leaning The Descendant, which wouldn’t have been out of place on some of the progressive records on Blue Note in the mid-sixties.

Ousley recorded his final album Grit-Gittin’ Feelin’ on Delmark in 2000. He passed away in 2015.

Capital Hill

BUCK HILL MURAL –

I’m a big fan of tenor saxophonist Buck Hill. The rather obscure tenor saxophonist from Washington D.C. flavored his thorough grasp of modern jazz with flexible phrasing and delicious edgy accents.

While playing professionally in the late 40s and 50s, Hill kept his job as a mailman in his birthplace of Washington D.C. He worked for the postal office for thirty years and became known as “The Wailin’ Postman”. Hill recorded outstanding albums for Steeplechase and Muse from the late seventies to the nineties.

Hill passed away in 2017. On August 27, 2019, D.C. unveiled a tribute mural of Hill at the historic U Street Corridor, where many jazz legends performed in the past. It is designed by Joe Pagac from Tucson, Arizona. See below, great tribute!

Cannonball & Keepnews

A CANNONBALL ADDERLEY PRESENTATION –

In 1960, saxophonist and bandleader Cannonball Adderley was ridin’ high. Adderley had found a record label – Riverside – that wholly supported his vision and further nurtured his considerable talents. His previous label, Mercury/EmArcy, was slow in releasing and promoting his recorded output. Although it had been a major step upwards after his rise on the scene in 1955, Adderley thoroughly regretted his signing a contract with that company in 1956.

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place when pianist Bobby Timmons, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes joined Cannonball and his brother Nat. During a tour on the West Coast, Cannonball, delighted by audience responses, suggested to label boss Orrin Keepnews to record a live performance. Keepnews gave the green light and the resulting record, In San Francisco, was a big seller, the gospel-tinged This Here by Bobby Timmons a hit. This Here represented Cannonball Adderley’s first steps on the path of his exploration of soul jazz.

Cannonball’s witty and insightful introductions of the compositions on In San Francisco hit the mark. Introducing his work was second nature to the genial alto saxophonist. In general, Cannonball was a busy bee, a vocal supporter of black jazz and the civil rights movement. Even before he made his name, Cannonball had been the organizer of the Army band in the late 40s.

He had a special rapport with Keepnews and soon acted as the A&R man of sorts. At the instigation of Cannonball, Riverside released a number of records of young talent/current colleagues that Cannonball thought deserved wider attention, the so-called A Cannonball Adderley Presentation albums. They were released over the course of two years, 1960-61.

Cannonball “presented” a number of cookin’ outfits, no surprise considering the Florida-born altoist’s impeccable taste and preference for blues-based jazz. The Paul Serrano Quintet’s Blues Holiday is a real groover. Trumpeter Paul Serrano is assisted by, among others, alto saxophonist Bunky Green and drummer Pete LaRoca. The J.F.K. Quintet’s New Frontiers From Washington D.C. (a lot of black musicians had high hopes of John F. Kennedy’s Presidency) is reminiscent of the soulful Jazz Crusaders. The group included bassist Walter Booker Jr., who would become the Cannonball Adderley Quintet’s bassist in the late sixties. Drummer Lenny McBrowne’s Eastern Lights is West Coast hard bop featuring fine writing by tenor saxophonist Donald Jackson. The Mangione Brothers’ – future heavyweights Chuck and Gap – got their first break on Riverside. The Jazz Brothers presents fresh, hot hard bop and features the fiery Sal Nistico on tenor saxophone.

Cannonball chose a couple of great tenor saxophonists. Veteran Buddy Johnson went as far back as the 20s, is best known for his long association with Earl Hines, served with Ellington, Basie and introduced bop players to the Hines and Coleman Hawkins bands. And The Four Brass Giants (line-up!) is pretty spectacular. The wonderful Clifford Jordan hadn’t recorded as a leader since his excellent stint on Blue Note in 1957 and after Spellbound would record three more records on Riverside’s subsidiary label Jazzland. Bluesy Don Wilkerson made his high-profile debut with Nat Adderley, Barry Harris, Sam Jones/Leroy Vinegar and Billy Higgins. Wilkerson’s style matured on Blue Note in the early sixties. Last but not least, Adderley coupled James Clay with David “Fathead” Newman for The Sound Of The Wide Open Spaces!!!!!, a hard-driving classic reviewed by Flophouse here.

The unknown pianist Roosevelt Wardell delivered The Revelation, a kind of gospel-tinged Bud Powell-influenced trio album. Flophouse also reviewed that album, see here. Finally, there’s At The Showboat by pianist Dick Morgan, another trio album, and a meaty session by Morgan, who has tinges of Les McCann, Ray Bryant, Erroll Garner and Oscar Peterson, but whose hellhound-on-his-trail-ish, propulsive style is all his own.

Recommended diggin’!

Behind The 8 Ball

BABY FACE WILLETTE –

Journalist Bobby Tanzilo published an extensive and thoroughly researched biographical sketch of the life and career of organist Baby Face Willette on onmilwaukee.com on September 11. Willette periodically resided in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

September 11 is the date of birth of Baby Face Willette.

Baby Face Willette is the much-admired but enigmatic organist who released two albums on Blue Note in 1961 – Face To Face and Stop And Listen and two albums on Argo in 1964 – Mo’ Rock and Behind The 8 Ball. He was also featured on Lou Donaldson’s Here ‘Tis and Grant Green’s Grant’s First Stand in 1961. Willette was rooted in gospel and r&b and loved Charlie Parker, a combination that resulted in a unique, groovin’ and single-line style most everybody just feels from the first beats is the real thing.

(Baby Face Willette’s legacy as a jazz artist: six records.)

Like a mine digger with the eye on diamonds, Tanzilo put together Willette’s story from various sources, including Willette’s son Steven. Yes, Willette resided in Milwaukee but the sharp-dressed cat with the youthful demeanor was all over the place, traveling the country in spells that led him from his gospel-infused youth, career as r&b-artist to the famous Blue Note headquarters and, finally, to the obscurity of Mid-Western clubs and his early demise in 1971. The article’s design is a treat and includes fantastic previously unreleased picture material.

Do yourself a favor. Stop and read.

Steamin’

DUTCH JAZZ HISTORY – STOOM & VERVOLGCURSUS BEBOP

Just for the fun of it I checked all the classic (hard) bop albums I reviewed over the past four years that featured musicians who participated in Stoomcursus & Vervolgcursus Bebop. Stoom & Vervolgcursus Bebop is the series of lectures on modern jazz and performances that the renowned Dutch pianist Rein de Graaff organized in The Netherlands from 1987 to 2012. De Graaff invited over American legends and unsung heroes for performances with contemporary European and Dutch counterparts. Almost without exception, the musicians were accompanied by his regular trio of bassists Koos Serierse (1936-2017) and Marius Beets, and the extraordinary drummer Eric Ineke.

The lectures and performances have been enormously valuable to the Dutch and European jazz landscape. De Graaff delivered his insightful introductions with understated humor. Season after season, Dutch jazz fans were treated to performances by legendary American jazz men and women that they never would have experienced in such an intimate setting would not the now semi-retired Rein de Graaff have taken great pains to locate them from practically all the States that do not begin with an ‘I’. He has been a straight-forward and acclaimed organizer. Plays mean piano too.

Here’s my check. Quite the list:

Marcus Belgrave, James Clay, Al Cohn, Junior Cook, Ronnie Cuber, Eddie Daniels, Charles Davis, Teddy Edwards, Art Farmer, Frank Foster, Curtis Fuller, Johnny Griffin, Barry Harris, Red Holloway, Clifford Jordan, Harold Land, Charles McPherson, James Moody, David “Fathead” Newman, Dave Pike, Julian Priester, Billy Root, Doug Sides, Louis Smith, James Spaulding and Art Taylor.

(Advertising poster 1987/88; Buck Hill, Teddy Edwards and Von Freeman 1991/92); Marchel Ivery, David “Fathead” Newman and the Rein de Graaff Trio 1989/90; Source: Coen de Jonge’s Belevenissen In Bebop. (Passage, 1997); Photography Anko Wieringa)

They usually performed at Vredenburg in Utrecht, Oosterpoort in Groningen and at small venues around the country. Many of these jazz greats stayed at De Graaff’s place in the village of Veendam, Groningen, where they were treated by their friendly host to a hearty breakfast and a view on the flat, wide and open spaces of the Northern countryside…

Coming season at the Flophouse Theatre: Billy Mitchell and Sal Nistico. Both Stoomcursus alumni. I’m not doing it on purpose. Those cats just keep wanderin’ through the backdoor!

Rein de Graaff

Pianist Rein de Graaff (Groningen, 1942) recorded more than 40 albums, both as a leader and in cooperation with numerous Americans and fellow Europeans. De Graaff played with Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Clark Terry, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Sonny Stitt, Philly Joe Jones and many others. He won the Boy Edgar Prijs in 1980 and the Bird Award at North Sea Jazz Festival in 1986. Rein de Graaff semi-retired this year, adding a salute the end of his career with a widely publicized and successful farewell tour.

Read my interview with Rein de Graaff here. And my interview with his longtime companion Eric Ineke here.

The Rein de Graaff Trio featuring tenor saxophonist Sjoerd Dijkhuizen performs at Café Pavlov in The Hague on Sunday 8 September at 16:00.