Those are actually the lyrics to "I Remember Clifford," one of the enduring jazz ballads by Benny Golson. With one modification. The name.
It should not go unnoticed that nearly two years ago, Hilton Ruiz lay unconscious on Bourbon Street in my hometown. What particularly stings me is that he was in New Orleans working on a benefit CD for and video about Hurricane Katrina victims.
It reminds me of a quote attributed to Dizzy Gillespie:
“Men have died for this music. You can’t get more serious than that.”
In 1986, Hilton Ruiz played the Steinway B in our performance studio.
Listen to "I Remember Clifford" from the WBGO Archives.
Fred Hersch has been a friend of WBGO for at least twenty years. He was in Jane Ira Bloom's group when we recorded her at Citicorp Center for a series called Jazz at the Market (host was the Rev. John Garcia Gensel of St. Peter's Church). I remember that Fred and Jane had brought a piano tuner, but the Center didn't want their tuner to touch the piano. I was disappointed, and learning on the job. Fred was .. well, if not incensed, he was at least insulted.
Fred was part of a concert at Town Hall with MC Steve Allen (the TV personality, dating all the way back to the first Tonight Show). As Steve Allen was telling stories and getting into it, he turned to Fred and asked for "a little something underneath this;" on demand, Fred played the perfect "patter" music.
But Fred wasn't born for that role. From his earliest time in New York, he belonged in top groups. He was a sideman for leaders a generation or more his senior, such as Joe Henderson - from Ohio, like Fred.
At the Iowa City Jazz Festival in the 1990s, I remember Fred getting onstage and talking about funding cuts coming to the National Endowment for the Arts. He wanted me to do that with him, and I didn't. His political passion took me by surprise.
Fred studied with Sophia Rosoff (as did Barry Harris, a revered teacher in New York, who shows pianists how to produce sound through the keys by relaxing. Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus was one of Fred's many many students.
The 1986 group must have been one of his first. Dick Oatts was on sax, Randy Brecker on trumpet, although they stepped aside for the ballad "Con Alma."
Saxophonist Jimmy Heath, drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, and the late bassist/cellist Percy Heath were jazz family long before the Marsalis clan. Separately, the sum of their music making covers the totality of modern jazz - Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, the Modern Jazz Quartet. I could go on and on, but enough already! Together, the Heath Brothers were a cohesive jazz combo that brought their collective experience to the stage to form their own brand of brotherly jazz.
WBGO has recorded a number of Heath Brothers performances. They include a beautiful recording from New Jersey Performing Arts Center's Prudential Hall, as well as a club date at Iridium. And that's just during my seven year tenure at the station! In 1984, WBGO recorded The Heath Brothers on New Year's Eve. December 31, 1984 at Sweet Basil in New York. The pianist was Stanley Cowell.
PS While you're still here, watch this clip from Danny Sherr's award-winning video about the siblings, Brotherly Jazz.
It's a Memphis Monday, courtesy of Harold Mabern. WBGO has recorded pianist Harold Mabern as a member of George Coleman's quartet. We've also recorded Mabern's own quartet at American Museum of Natural History.
Check out this version of Harold Mabern's trio, recorded in 1984 at Citicorp Center in New York. Bassist Jamil Nasser (like Mabern, a Memphis native) and drummer Frank Gant, two veteran trio performers (check out those Ahmad Jamal records!) make the trio. They play "Ray's Idea," a song composed by bassist Ray Brown and Walter "Gil" Fuller during the heyday of Dizzy Gillespie's big band.
As my tenth anniversary at Jazz 88 is fast approaching, I remember my first few days at the radio station. I didn't know enough about the music to comment on anything. I had to rely on my personal Jazz Dictionary, Gary Walker. Thanks to the morning maestro, I've learned so much about jazz now...to a point where I play air drums, piano and sax in the studio in between newscasts. I'm also blessed to be working at a radio station where so many talented artists come to visit. Two recent events made me realize I've actually become a part of the jazz community. Trumpeter Jon Faddis agreed to shoot the breeze with me about sports and jazz on SportsJam and bassist John Lee complimented my work during a recent visit to Cecil's Jazz Club in West Orange. Very cool to have two terrific guys who played with Dizzy Gillespie make me feel special!
There's some serious talent on the stage tonight.
Trio da Paz are Romero Lubambo on guitar, Nilson Matta on bass, and Duduka da Fonseca on percussion. They are some of the best Brazilian jazz musicians on the scene. When you want samba, bossa nova, and other native Brazilian styles fused with jazz improvisation, these are your go-to guys. Singers Pamela Driggs and Maucha Adnet will each join the trio for a song before midnight.
Kenny Barron is a certifiable jazz master, for sure (it's time for the NEA to recognize this). He's played with Dizzy Gillespie, Jim Hall, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz and a slew of other great musicians. His work in Gillespie's 1960s Quintet with James Moody is outstanding. The final records with Getz are worth having, especially People Time, the sax and piano duets. The duet recording with bassist Charlie Haden, Night and the City, is a not-so-distant classic. Kenny Barron was also a part of Sphere, the Thelonious Monk tribute group that became its own thing.
Did I mention that he taught music at Rutgers University in Newark for 27 years? I'll leave the rest out for you to discover. There's plenty more.
Kenny Barron and his wife used to go to the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday mornings. At noon, they'd visit a nearby café for Brazilian food and a great trio. Kenny was digging Romero Lubambo on guitar, Nilson Matta on bass, and Duduka da Fonseca on drums. aka Trio da Paz. In 2002, these four recorded a CD together. It's called Canta Brasil.
Kenny Barron and Trio da Paz have a lot of chemistry. Stay tuned.