The Dave Bailey Sextet One Foot In The Gutter (Epic 1960)

Solid, swinging drumming and great line-ups marked the albums drummer Dave Bailey made as a leader in 1960-61: a sudden burst of activity set off by One Foot In The Gutter.

Dave Bailey Sextet - One Foot In The Gutter


Dave Bailey (drums), Clark Terry (trumpet), Junior Cook (tenor saxophone), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Horace Parlan (piano), Peck Morrison (bass)


on July 19 & 20, 1960


as Epic LA 16008 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
One Foot In The Gutter
Well, You Needn’t
Side B:

Cogniscenti and colleagues were in for a surprise when Dave Bailey quit the jazz life to become a flight instructor from 1969 to ’74. He somewhat returned to the scene when he picked up educational work for Jazzmobile in New York City after his stint on the airport. However, Bailey is remembered most of all as a top-rate drummer of the hard bop period, present on plenty fine albums from Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller, Stan Getz, Grant Green and Jimmy Smith. Three long-time associations stand out: Gerry Mulligan (1955-66), Lou Donaldson (1957-61) and Clark Terry (1962-67).

In 1960/61, Bailey recorded five albums as a leader for Epic, Jazztime and Jazzline with a number of illustrious contemporaries as Clark Terry, Kenny Dorham, Tommy Flanagan and Grant Green. Inevitably, some of those LP’s were re-issued under the names of his better-known colleagues. Reaching Out! was repackaged as Grant Green’s Green Blues, Bash! as Kenny Dorham’s Osmosis. One Foot In The Gutter met no such fate, regardless of Clark Terry, the obvious choice for companies eager to cash in.

Perhaps inspired by the success of The Cannonball Adderley Quintet’s Live In San Francisco album, recorded for a standing-room crowd in the relaxed atmosphere of the Jazz Workshop, Epic invited an audience to the Columbia 30th Street Studio in NYC (Epic was a subsidiary of Columbia Records) for the One Foot In The Gutter session. Uncertain as to which foot and gutter Bailey is talking about, it could well be, in subsequent order, his and one of those dingy clubs the jazz men of the classic age had to work in more often than not. It could also refer, of course, to the gutter of life in the USA, in which case the foot is a symbol of Uncle Sam’s snake-leather boot desperate to keep the black man lying on the ground. Any which way, the atmosphere is relaxed and the album is particularly well-recorded, sounding crisp, fresh and resonant.

Swing is the thing. And it’s immediately clear from note one that, if not spectacular on other fronts, Dave Bailey is a swinger. Cats instantly smell that kind of species. They want to play with swinging drummers only, and Bailey’s ride cymbal is stirring along proceedings rather nicely. There’s plenty of room to stretch out for Clark Terry, Curtis Fuller, Junior Cook and Horace Parlan on three mid-tempo tunes – the Bailey blues One Foot In The Gutter, Thelonious Monk’s Well, You Needn’t and Clifford Brown’s Sandu. The swift, tart and witty Terry, subdued, fecund and playful Fuller and angular Parlan succeed to raise more than a dozen smiles.

But if anyone shines brightly in the face of humiliation and constant threat of life in the muddy waters, it’s tenor saxophonist Junior Cook. The tone of Cook, at the time part of the classic Horace Silver line-up including Blue Mitchell, Gene Taylor and Louis Hayes, is a soul grabber: round, clean, medium-big, with a sly, sleazy edge, much akin to Hank Mobley or Tina Brooks. He’s finding the corners one didn’t anticipate were there in the labyrinth of bluesy, stylish phrases, spellbound by the innocence he’s discovering deep within himself of the child that’s thoroughly enjoying rides on the roller rink. Perhaps the organ grinds in his mind. Obviously, Cook is the cherry on top of a solid and laid-back blowing session.

Cook, Book!


Booker Ervin - The Good Book

Acrobat released a 4CD set of Booker Ervin: The Good Book – The Early Years 1960-1962. It is a compilation of performances from Ervin’s debut album The Book Cooks, That’s It and guest appearances on albums by Horace Parlan, Mal Waldron, Teddy Charles and Bill Barron. At the time, the Denison, Texas-born Ervin had just made his mark in the group of Charles Mingus, his forceful, fire and brimstone-style being a big asset on classic albums as, among others, Mingus Ah Um and Blues & Roots. Ervin was ready to capitalize on his recent exposure through the Mingus association, but regardless of his recording activity life as a freelancer in New York was tough. It turned out that the tenor saxophonist never really gained the public acclaim he deserved.

There are a number of misunderstandings about the life and career of Booker Ervin, a tenor saxophonist adored by legions of classic jazz fans and, to be sure, certainly also derided by some because of his supposedly ‘superficial’ wailing style. For one thing, Booker Ervin is a sincere, passionate and unique saxophonist but not the harmonically advanced Coltranesque musician a number of critics and aficionados believed him to be. The English saxophonist and writer Simon Spillett, who wrote the liner notes to The Good Book, tackles other myths as well about the life and style of Ervin, who died in 1969 at the age of 39. Rarely does the jazz fan encounter such extensive and insightful essays. Spillett has written the definitive account of Ervin’s life and offers a balanced evaluation of his legacy in a booklet that would look far from silly as a separate publication. On the contrary.

The Book Cooks showed Ervin’s potential, That’s It perfectly nails his singular aesthetic. The contrast of his style with Eric Dolphy’s on Mal Waldron’s The Quest is one of the reasons why that album is epic. Acrobat also picked intriguing albums by Bill Barron (Hot Line – The Tenor Of Bill Barron) and Teddy Charles (Metronome Presents Jazz In The Garden At The Museum Of Modern Art), both very collectable LP’s. Hopefully Acrobat will focus on mid-and late career in the future.

Check the Acrobat website here. Buy The Good Book here.

Tubby Hayes Tubbs In N.Y. (Fontana 1961)

Tenor saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Tubby Hayes took a jump across the great pond in 1961 and fitted right in. Tubbs In NY is the smash result of a gig with hi-level American colleagues Clark Terry, Horace Parlan and Eddie Costa.

Tubby Hayes - Tubbs In NY


Tubby Hayes (tenor saxophone), Clark Terry (trumpet), Eddie Costa (vibraphone), Horace Parlan (piano), George Duvivier (bass), Dave Bailey (drums)


in 1961 in New York City


as STFL 595 in 1961

Track listing

Side A:
You For Me
A Pint Of Bitter
Side B:
Opus Ocean

Although hardly a diaspora, more than a few Europeans visited the promised land of that thing called jazz in the fifties and sixties. Particularly the Jerusalem of jazz, New York City. For example, the Swedish Rolf Ericsson, Belgian Bobby Jaspar, German Jutta Hipp and Dutch Nico Bunnink preceded Hayes in their thirst for improving their art of improvising amongst the prime players of the day. Tubby Hayes was the first Englishman to try his hand in the USA, according to his biographer, the saxophonist Simon Spillett. He should know. Surely the American musicians, sharp in their assessment of a player’s qualities, recognized Tubby Hayes as a saxophonist who ‘got it’, indeed, could scare the shit out of anybody.

Tubbs, English icon. The North-Irish revere George Best, the English and Londoners in-the-know worship Tubby Hayes, perhaps not the greatest striker but certainly the prime tenor saxophonist in British classic jazz history. Bloke with a thirst for life, vice and freedom music, which as a logical consequence meant becoming one of the liberating forces for England’s post-war youth that eagerly tried to find its voice in the conservative, don’t-spill-from-y’r-cup-a-tea-type British society. From Raynes Park in South-London, Hayes demonstrated a natural talent for playing a variety of instruments including vibes at a young age, but mostly focused on tenor saxophone. The short Hayes, dubbed ‘The Little Giant’ by saxophonist Benny Green (Johnny Griffin: ‘Hey, Benny, I’m the Little Giant, remember? Down here, man, down here!’) ran the beloved English (hard) bop quintet The Jazz Couriers with fellow Londoner, the illustrious English saxophonist and club owner Ronnie Scott during the years 1957-59.

After Tubbs In NY, Hayes was invited over again, resulting in Return Visit (Fontana, 1963) and a number of US appearances in ’64 and ’65, yet Hayes didn’t quite get a foothold in the US. Instead, he remained busy in the UK, expanding his territory into the radio, tv and film world, although the lull that had set in in the jazz business as a result of pop music’s reign also affected Hayes. His later years were marked by a deteriorating health. Hayes passed away in 1973.

Somehow the solo’s of Tubby Hayes roll on like steam trains, he laughs hearthily and makes swift, surprising U-turns while the intermittent plethora of notes serves as the glue between chapters of fascinating tales. He has a big sound and a fiery style influenced by Coltrane, Rollins, Mobley and, by his own account, Zoot Sims. A swinger. Working with a set of familiar tunes and changes, the presidential style of Hayes blends neatly with the solid rhythm section of veteran bass player George Duvivier and drummer Dave Bailey, pianist Horace Parlan’s mix of angular bop and percussive gospel tinges, the buoyant, masterful Clark Terry and suavely swinging Eddie Costa.

Hayes takes on two Rollins originals, Airegin and Doxy, showing he’s the kind of player that’s present from note one, no bullshit. The Clark Terry composition A Pint Of Bitter’s loping tempo suggests that, in spite of his reputation, Tubbs doesn’t wash it away in a few swallows but at least parks it a few secs at the bar while lighting a cig, always keeping the flame slightly under the tip. How unlike the hooligans that wobble down the alleys of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, throwing up on the sidewalk in between gulps.

Highlights? Certainly Gershwin’s Soon qualifies, Hayes rollercoasting through it with the panache of an Olympic slalom ski champion. Lean in the hips, no doubt.

Remembering And Recommending Horace Parlan

HORACE PARLAN – Horace Parlan passed away on February 23, 2017 in Naestved, Denmark at the age of 86. Parlan suffered from polio as a child. With his right hand crippled, as a consequence Parlan’s playing style in a gospel-drenched hard bop and post bop vein was a rare combination of sparse, rollicking left hand lines and inventive, three-fingered right hand voicings. Check out Parlan’s singular style on a 1986 concert in Köln, Germany with the typically good-natured Dizzy Gillespie and a particularly eloquent Clifford Jordan. Parlan settled down in Denmark in 1972 and eventually became a Danish citizen.

Best known for his cooperation with Charles Mingus on Mingus Ah Um and Blues & Roots and appearance on Dexter Gordon’s Doin’ Alright, Parlan was featured on a series of other fine recordings in the sixties of, among others, Stanley Turrentine, Roland Kirk, Booker Ervin and Lou Donaldson. Parlan’s unlikely pairing with Archie Shepp on 1977’s gospel-themed album Goin’ Home was a big succes, acted upon by 1980’s Trouble In Mind but not surpassed. As the legend goes, during the recording of the album both musicians shed more than a number of tears. Parlan recorded prolifically as a leader for Blue Note, often with bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood, a tight-knit trio that came to be known as Us Three. Parlan’s Steeplechase albums from the seventies are particularly exciting.

BBC World Service visited the pianist in 2015 for their radio broadcast series The Documentary. A widower in a nursing home, the blind, fragile and shaky-voiced Parlan has retired from playing and talks us through his career. It’s a touching portrait.

Check out a thorough obit in The Washington Post here.

Find essential Parlan below, in chronological order. RIP Horace Parlan.

(Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um, Columbia 1959; Horace Parlan – Speakin’ My Piece, Blue Note 1960; Stanley Turrentine – Up At Minton’s, Blue Note 1960)

(Dexter Gordon – Doin’ Alright, Blue Note 1961; Horace Parlan – Up & Down, Blue Note 1961; Horace Parlan – No Blues, Steeplechase 1975)

*(Horace Parlan – Frank-ly Speaking, Steeplechase 1977; Archie Shepp & Horace Parlan – Goin’ Home, Steeplechase 1977; Horace Parlan – Relaxin’ With Horace, Stunt 2004)

Horace Parlan Quintet Speakin’ My Piece (Blue Note 1961)

Horace Parlan is a very interesting pianist, not only because of his peculiar playing style that is due to his handicapped right hand. He’s an essential hard bop player and made a lot of recordings in the post bop-style. But the borders weren’t strict, Parlan puts a lot of blues in post bop and a big dose of adventurous lines in his bluesy output.

Horace Parlan Quintet - Speakin' My Piece


Horace Parlan (piano), Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone), Tommy Turrentine (trumpet), George Tucker (bass), Al Harewood (drums)


on July 14, 1961 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as BLP 4043 in 1961

Track listing

Side A:
Up In Cynthia’s Room
Side B:
Oh So Blue
Speakin’ My Piece

Take Up In Cynthia’s Room from Parlan’s second album as a leader on Blue Note, Speakin’ My Piece. It’s a medium-tempo swinger with graceful blues licks and blue notes, elegant, like the whole album, but many choruses are embellished with idiosynchratic entrances and percussively stamped-out glissandos as well. Parlan also doesn’t shy away from suddenly going up an octave. Pleasant elements of surprise.

Horace Parlan was stricken with polio as a baby, which resulted in the partial crippling of his right hand. The playing style of the Pittsburgh-born pianist – poignant left hand lines and voicings and sparse, rhythmic right-hand comping- attracted the attention of visiting jazz pros in the early fifties. From 1952 to 1957, Parlan played with Sonny Stitt. Thereafter, Charles Mingus invited him to work in his Jazz Workshop. Parlan’s singular style is a great asset of the classic Mingus albums Mingus Ah Um and Blues & Roots.

In 1972, Parlan moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. Parlan became a fixture of the Danish scene (and its major jazz club, Club Montmartre), which already was graced with the presence of other American expatriates as Dexter Gordon, Kenny Drew, Ben Webster and Archie Shepp. With Shepp, Parlan recorded the influential, gospel-drenched Goin’ Home in 1974, the recording of which, alledgedly, brought tears to the duo’s eyes during each tune. Throughout the seventies and the early eighties, Parlan recorded prolifically on the Danish label Steeplechase.

Nowadays, Parlan still lives in the small village of Rude near Copenhagen. The 86-year old retired and blind pianist, who has been living in a nursery home for some time now, talked to BBC World Service in 2015. I wrote about that touching portrait just a while ago.

Speakin’ My Piece is part of a series of consistent, top-rate albums that Parlan made with his regular trio for Blue Note in the early sixties. The trio, including bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood, came to be known as Us Three, a classic rhythm unit of the Blue Note roster with an unusually unified sense of purpose. The line-up’s first album for Blue Note was named Us Three (1960). Parlan is the last man standing, as George Tucker died from cerebral hemorrhage in 1965 (allegedly while performing with Kenny Burrell) and Al Harewood passed away in 2014. As you may well know, the jazz dance outfit US3 used the catchy name and hit big with 1993’s Hand On The Torch, sampling several classic Blue Note recordings in the process.

But why bother with forgettable hybrids when the real deal is available?

Horace Parlan – At The Beeb

A lot of American musicians migrated to Europe onwards from the fifties, looking for work, recognition and a relief from the harsh conditions of American life and the stress of racial prejudice: Bud Powell, Art Taylor, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Clarke, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Slide Hampton, Lucky Thompson… Most of them, eventually, returned to the US. Few settled in Europe for the rest of their lives, like Don Byas, Kenny Drew and Art Farmer.

And pianist Horace Parlan. Parlan settled down in Denmark in 1972 and still lives in the village of Rude near Copenhagen. Not only that, Parlan has been a Danish citizen for years now.

Horace Parlan suffered from polio as a child. His right hand is crippled. As a consequence, Parlan’s playing style was a rare combination of sparse, rollicking left hand lines and inventive, three-fingered right hand voicings. Check out Parlan’s singular style on a 1986 concert in Köln, Germany. (with – the typically good-natured! – Dizzy Gillespie and a particularly eloquent Clifford Jordan)

Parlan is heard on a number of classic hard and post-bop recordings, notably on tunes as Charles Mingus’ Better Git It In Your Soul and Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting. And everybody digs Us Three, one of the essential Blue Note rhythm sections consisting of Parlan, bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood. Some of their best work is on Parlan’s Us Three and Speakin’ My Piece, Stanley Turrentine’s Up At Minton’s and Dexter Gordon’s Doin’ Alright.

BBC World Service visited the 84-years old pianist in 2015 for their radio broadcast series The Documentary. A widower in a nursing home, the blind, fragile and shaky-voiced Parlan has retired and talks us through his career. It’s a touching portrait.

At one time, Archie Shepp is on the phone. Checking on his pal. The conversation soon turns to music. “Did you hear any cool cats lately?”

Old friends, sticking together like book ends.