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ghost of miles

"The Memphis Mafia" this week on Night Lights

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Much more information here, along with a video of Booker Little and George Coleman performing with Max Roach. The show covers the late-1950s and 1960s recordings of Harold Mabern, George Coleman, Booker Little, and Frank Strozier--with at least two members playing on every side that's featured. Separate shows on some of these artists will follow later this year, along with a show about Phineas Newborn Jr.

 

The Memphis Mafia: Mabern, Strozier, Coleman and Little airs Saturday, Jan. 19 at 11:05 p.m. EST on WFIU and at 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville. It will also air on Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. EST on Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio. The program will be posted for online listening Monday morning in the Night Lights archives.

 

Next week: "Miss Peggy Lee, Songwriter."

Edited by ghost of miles

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Do you know the unreleased at the time Strozier 1960 VeeJay album "Cool, Calm and Collected," released in 1993 with numerous alternate takes? Fine rhythm section -- Billy Wallace, Bill Lee, and Vernel Fournier -- and the date was recorded with exceptional presence at Universal Studios in Chicago, probably by engineer Bruce Sweiden, who did a number of Chicago VeeJay dates. In any case, Universal Studios was just a good, airy room, a la Columbia's 30th St. Studio. Arguably, Wallace is a bit high in the mix, and his instrument is not the finest, but the band is in the room with you. Some of the best Fournier on record. The liner notes oddly refer to Billy Wallace as "Wallace William" and quote Dan Morgenstern as saying this "may be his only record." If there was a Wallace William, maybe so (no blame to Dan for responding thusly to an erroneous question), but this is Billy Wallace (correctly identified on the back cover of the CD), who recorded with Max Roach among others.

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Do you know the unreleased at the time Strozier 1960 VeeJay album "Cool, Calm and Collected," released in 1993 with numerous alternate takes? Fine rhythm section -- Billy Wallace, Bill Lee, and Vernel Fournier -- and the date was recorded with exceptional presence at Universal Studios in Chicago, probably by engineer Bruce Sweiden, who did a number of Chicago VeeJay dates. In any case, Universal Studios was just a good, airy room, a la Columbia's 30th St. Studio. Arguably, Wallace is a bit high in the mix, and his instrument is not the finest, but the band is in the room with you. Some of the best Fournier on record. The liner notes oddly refer to Billy Wallace as "Wallace William" and quote Dan Morgenstern as saying this "may be his only record." If there was a Wallace William, maybe so (no blame to Dan for responding thusly to an erroneous question), but this is Billy Wallace (correctly identified on the back cover of the CD), who recorded with Max Roach among others.

Do you know if this is the same Billy Wallace who now lives in Seattle? I heard him play with Von Freeman a couple of years back at Tula's and it was a great evening of music.

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If he played with Von it's probably the same Billy Wallace. If so, great news that he's still with us. It looks like Max's "Jazz in 3/4 Time" and "Live at the Bee Hive" may be Wallace's only records. Toward the end of his solos, he liked to play semi-parallel lines in the upper and lower registers. The young Denny Zeitlin may have picked up on this, though it's also possible that Denny began to do that kind of thing independently (I mention this because both were Chicago-area players, though Denny was a fair bit younger at the time, in his late teens). In both cases, there was some real in-the-moment thinking involved in this; it wasn't just a worked-out, worked-up device. I think Wallace might have been from Milwaukee originally.

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I recently bought Jazz in 3/4 Time and I've really been digging Wallace's playing, especially with reference to the semi-parallel lines you mention, Larry. I've been wondering where else he recorded. Now I know. Just another reason to love these forums: answers to questions you didn't even ask!

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Larry, I know of that Strozier album, but I've never actually heard it. I'll certainly check it out when I get around to doing a show devoted solely to Strozier; looks like there's a 2000 reissue that's still widely available.

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A snippet from the website of singer Johnny Janis:

http://www.starwellmusic.com/index.html

"Another musical highlight for me was working at Le Bistro in Chicago with the Billy Wallace Trio. Five nights a week for two great years I couldn't wait to go to work. Plus I recorded an album (The Start Of Something New) with Billy's trio for Columbia Records."

BTW, Janis offers a record, made some time ago but never released, that features him with Dodo Marmarosa and Ira Sullivan. I will be looking into this myself.

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If he played with Von it's probably the same Billy Wallace. If so, great news that he's still with us. It looks like Max's "Jazz in 3/4 Time" and "Live at the Bee Hive" may be Wallace's only records. Toward the end of his solos, he liked to play semi-parallel lines in the upper and lower registers. The young Denny Zeitlin may have picked up on this, though it's also possible that Denny began to do that kind of thing independently (I mention this because both were Chicago-area players, though Denny was a fair bit younger at the time, in his late teens). In both cases, there was some real in-the-moment thinking involved in this; it wasn't just a worked-out, worked-up device. I think Wallace might have been from Milwaukee originally.

Thanks, Larry. From how you describe his playing it definitely sounds like the same person. I'll have to do some more research into this and ask some of the musicians who have been on the scene a long time in this area such as John Bishop, Jeff Johnson, et al. about him. I believe that he's been in Seattle quite awhile. He has (or had?) a regular gig at The Pampas Room. This room hasn't shown up on the Earshot calendar recently so I don't know if it still exists. Here's an online review from Seattle Citysearch:

12/05/2002 Posted by JOHNNYRABATO

AS A PASSIONATE LOVER OF GREAT MUSIC, AFTER TRAVELING ALL OVER THE USA, I HAVE TO SAY THAT THE PAMPAS ROOM IS TOPS! THE GREAT MUSIC OF THE 30'S AND 40'S IS THANKFULLY AND BEAUTIFULLY RENDERED BY GENTLEMEN THAT WERE THERE. BILLY WALLACE, PIANO, FLOYD STANDIFER, SAX & TRUMPET AND BOB MATTHEWS, BASS, LIVED AND PLAYED IN THAT GREAT ERA OF AMERICAN MUSIC WITH THE BIG NAMES OF THAT TIME. BB WHITE'S VOCALS ARE PURE ROMANCE. I HAVE FOUND NOTHING LIKE IT, ANYWHERE. YOU'LL FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN AN OLD MOVIE. SUCH AMBIANCE!!! OH, AND BY THE WAY, THE FOOD, BOOZE AND SERVICE ARE EXCELLENT AS WELL.....BUT THE MUSIC....MAN, THE MUSIC.

Various unconfirmed online sources cite the fact that he also played with Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson and Carmen McRae.

I also found

this video which is pretty darned poor quality. It looks to be the same pianist from what I can discern. It's hard to tell from the audio which is even worse than the video...

That Tula's performance with Vonski was superb. Bob Matthews was on bass but I don't recall the drummer's name; they were all veteran players.

Edited by Bill Barton

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I'll have to do some more research into this and ask some of the musicians who have been on the scene a long time in this area such as John Bishop, Jeff Johnson, et al. about him.

I've belatedly become aware of Bishop, Johnson, and guitarist John Stowell through a couple of albums they did together, one with Rick Mandyck, one with just the trio. Excellent players who have their own voices.

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I'll have to do some more research into this and ask some of the musicians who have been on the scene a long time in this area such as John Bishop, Jeff Johnson, et al. about him.

I've belatedly become aware of Bishop, Johnson, and guitarist John Stowell through a couple of albums they did together, one with Rick Mandyck, one with just the trio. Excellent players who have their own voices.

All really great musicians, and of course, John Bishop owns Origin Records with fellow drummer Matt Jorgensen.

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Do you know the unreleased at the time Strozier 1960 VeeJay album "Cool, Calm and Collected," released in 1993 with numerous alternate takes? Fine rhythm section -- Billy Wallace, Bill Lee, and Vernel Fournier -- and the date was recorded with exceptional presence at Universal Studios in Chicago, probably by engineer Bruce Sweiden, who did a number of Chicago VeeJay dates. In any case, Universal Studios was just a good, airy room, a la Columbia's 30th St. Studio. Arguably, Wallace is a bit high in the mix, and his instrument is not the finest, but the band is in the room with you. Some of the best Fournier on record. The liner notes oddly refer to Billy Wallace as "Wallace William" and quote Dan Morgenstern as saying this "may be his only record." If there was a Wallace William, maybe so (no blame to Dan for responding thusly to an erroneous question), but this is Billy Wallace (correctly identified on the back cover of the CD), who recorded with Max Roach among others.

Do you know if this is the same Billy Wallace who now lives in Seattle? I heard him play with Von Freeman a couple of years back at Tula's and it was a great evening of music.

If he played with Von it's probably the same Billy Wallace. If so, great news that he's still with us. It looks like Max's "Jazz in 3/4 Time" and "Live at the Bee Hive" may be Wallace's only records. Toward the end of his solos, he liked to play semi-parallel lines in the upper and lower registers. The young Denny Zeitlin may have picked up on this, though it's also possible that Denny began to do that kind of thing independently (I mention this because both were Chicago-area players, though Denny was a fair bit younger at the time, in his late teens). In both cases, there was some real in-the-moment thinking involved in this; it wasn't just a worked-out, worked-up device. I think Wallace might have been from Milwaukee originally.

I recently spoke with John Bishop, and this is definitely the same Billy Wallace. He moved to Las Vegas a couple of years ago so no longer is on the Seattle scene. Drat! I would have loved to hear him in performance again. That low-tech video I linked to on post #9 is him, no question, and it was recorded in Las Vegas.

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Larry, I know of that Strozier album, but I've never actually heard it. I'll certainly check it out when I get around to doing a show devoted solely to Strozier; looks like there's a 2000 reissue that's still widely available.

think this is my favorite of the strozier albums i've heard (followed closely by the riverside 2fer and then fantastic fs)

don't miss it!

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Larry, I know of that Strozier album, but I've never actually heard it. I'll certainly check it out when I get around to doing a show devoted solely to Strozier; looks like there's a 2000 reissue that's still widely available.

think this is my favorite of the strozier albums i've heard (followed closely by the riverside 2fer and then fantastic fs)

don't miss it!

I won't--am ordering it now. Not sure when I'll do the Strozier show, but obviously I should have it on hand for that program when it comes around.

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I recently spoke with John Bishop, and this is definitely the same Billy Wallace. He moved to Las Vegas a couple of years ago so no longer is on the Seattle scene. Drat! I would have loved to hear him in performance again. That low-tech video I linked to on post #9 is him, no question, and it was recorded in Las Vegas.

Thanks, Bill. In case you missed it, I just ran across another recording on which Wallace appears, singer Johnny Janis' "The Start of Something New" (Columbia, c. 1959-60). It's mentioned in this recent thread about Janis, which I launched:

http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php...84&hl=janis

The album is notable for Janis' work but doesn't tell us much about Wallace that we don't already know -- his trio plays a mostly subsidiary, neo-Red Garland role, though tastily so. I spoke to Janis and he doesn't recall who the bassist and drummer were, though he said that this was Wallace's regular working group, and that they were the house trio at a particular Chicago club (probably on or near Rush St.) for some time, maybe a year or more.

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During a recent interview, Harold Mabern told me of another pianist on the Memphis scene who deserved wider recognition, Evans Bradshaw. He recorded a couple of LPs for Riverside, though his career evidently never took off. I don't know if you've ever run across him, but he is worth investigating.

 

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