July 17, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
By the 1980's, jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones had formed Dameronia, a group dedicated to playing the music of the great pianist, composer and arranger Tadd Dameron. Dameron was a major influence of the drumming giant early in his career. Dameronia was well-received and produced a few LP's with this musical concept. Listen to the "Tadd's Delight" from 1983 featuring Charles Davis on saxophones, Walter Davis, Jr. on piano and Larry Ridley on bass. It is imaginable that Jones had a dual love playing this tune. In addition to honoring Dameron, Miles Davis, who was another major influence (and colleague), made the tune famous in the 1950s. We originally recorded this special date live in 1983 from the Jazz Forum in New York City. This recording is particularly a highlight, as it was not long after, that jazz would lose this innovative drummer to a fatal heart attack.
Jones, who would have turned 85 this month, remains one of the quintessential drummers of this genre.
© 2008 WBGO
July 15, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
Born and raised in Lima (LYE-ma), Ohio, the saxophonist Joe Henderson was the thirteenth of 15 children. The oldest living sibling is Troye Henderson, born in 1924. We reached out to brother Troye to ask permission to share "Recordame" from the WBGO archive with you, and to ask about Joe.
When Joe - very very young at the time - was learning the saxophone, Troye played his recording of "DB Blues" by Lester Young, and told Joe to learn the first three notes and when he knew them, learn the next three. Joe became so good that - when Stan Kenton's and Lionel Hampton's big bands came through Lima - family members took Joe (underage) to the shows, and the leaders invited him onstage. Joe called Troye his mentor, and Troye was a lifelong fan who would jump in his car and drive across state lines to hear him.
After the Army, Joe Henderson lived in San Francisco, close to San Francisco State University. Saxophonist Andrew Speight (SPITE) - now on the faculty there - says that, though not formally affiliated with SFSU, Henderson taught lots of people in the Bay Area and had the respect of all musicians. When he passed, people "grabbed and secured his stuff," so that it would not be lost to jazz history.
Andrew and others at SFSU are setting up a home for the collection, the Joe Henderson Institute. They hope to find a qualified grad student who will organize the music manuscripts, many many tapes of practice sessions and gigs ("live bootlegs") that Joe recorded, released records, awards, and other people's manuscripts of Joe's playing. It's a long process, slowly beginning.
The Institute will be part of the Generations Project, under the umbrella of the International Center for the Arts at SFSU. The Project also holds hours of SFSU video of the late pianist Ronnie Mathews (1935-2008), who was involved - along with drummer Jimmy Cobb - in studying group creativity.
Players like Henderson, Mathews and Cobb came up playing a lot of gigs in a lot of great bands with distinctive group sounds. In a split second, the musicians would negotiate questions - right there on the bandstand, creatively, through their music - not as stars but as .. brothers is the word that comes to mind. Brother Troye says when the Joe Henderson Institute is finally open for business that, just as he did when Joe was alive, he'll drive from Ohio to California to be there!
© 2008 WBGO
July 15, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
It's that time again. The DownBeat Critics Poll results are in (the August issue of DownBeat, that is). Though I am always torn when it comes to the idea of critics and their polls, I always end up looking forward to seeing who's who and what's what in the eyes of the critics and writers. This year had some very cool and surprising results. As the young folks say in my neighborhood..."I ain't mad!"
Some of the results that I was especially happy to see were Rising Star Soprano Saxophonist, which went to Marcus Strickland. This cat is definitely well-deserving in this category, though he could easily win that category for tenor as well. Which reminds me...I didn't see a Rising Star Tenor category. I can count on two hands some really killin' tenor players that could have been in that category, but that's another blog, I suppose. Anyway, kudos to Marcus, and good looks to the critics who know which end is up. I was also happy to see Eric Harland nab the Rising Star Drums category (though disappointed in not seeing Kendrick Scott on the list - that cat is just superb and his album is among one of my modern-day favorites), Gregoire Maret in the Miscellaneous Instrument category for harmonica (that cat is ridiculous). Esperanza Spaulding took the Rising Star Acoustic Bass category, which is really special. To see a woman win in a category that is traditionally very un-female makes it all the more inspiring. Lionel Loueke got his due for Rising Star Guitar, and one of my favorite artists Robert Glasper took the Rising Star Piano category. Definitely check out all of these artists, as they are truly ones to watch, and experience. It was very cool to see the critics mix it up a bit, and recognize all of the great emerging lions of this music. Nice work!
© 2008 WBGO