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Don Ferrara 1928-2011

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The bebop spoke here blog has an item indicating trumpet player Don Ferrara died on January 18. He was 82.

Don Ferrara

Ferrara recorded with Woody Herman, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz among others.

Sadly he never recorded under his name.

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I only know his work from the Atlantic, Verve, and Wave recordings he did with Lee Konitz. He was one of the relatively unsung musicians who played his part in the music.

Thanks and R.I.P., Mr. Ferrara.

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IIRC he's on lots of my Mulligan albums, in particular alternating with Jon Eardley in the Sextet and in the Concert Jazz Band, where he often played alongside Nick Travis, whom I associate with him. He's on two of my Konitz albums and has a very regular style of phrasing which I put down to Tristano influence.

Edited by BillF

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he plays great, but for some reason there is another guy - white trumpeter, I think same generation, with a similarly lyrical style - with whom I always confuse him - anybody know who I'm talking about?

ahh, just found him....Don Joseph.

Edited by AllenLowe

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There was a mini-school of those bebop-Bobby Hackett guys, all of whom I think knew each other fairly well -- Ferrara, Joseph, Phil Sunkel, perhaps Tony Fruscella, John Carisi, John Wilson (who recorded early on with Jimmy Raney) probably a few others. John Eardley? -- maybe but not quite.

I'm not saying they were bebop-Bobby Hackett guys in terms of actual origin, just that it sometimes sounded as though they were. Joseph and Fruscella were superb at their best; Ferrara I liked a lot, though he was so saxophonish/Tristano-ish at times that he could seem a bit at odds with his instrument.

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Sad news.

I like what little I've heard of Ferrara's... some with Konitz, Mulligan.

Allen (and anyone else interested): there's some fascinating and interesting discussion of that "school" of trumpet players (Joseph, Ferrara, Fruscella) in the Tony Fruscella thread.

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I'm not saying they were bebop-Bobby Hackett guys in terms of actual origin, just that it sometimes sounded as though they were.

Is it too much/too wrong to put early Chet Baker in here as well?

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I'm not saying they were bebop-Bobby Hackett guys in terms of actual origin, just that it sometimes sounded as though they were.

Is it too much/too wrong to put early Chet Baker in here as well?

In Jeoren de Valk's very sound Baker bio (sound in itself and also by contrast with James Gavin's "Deep In A Dream"), de Valk writes:

"Critics compare the early Chet Baker with Bix Beiderbecke and Bobby Hackett. Even if there are similarities between these white trumpeters, there can be no question of influence. Chet [in his mid-teens] was already a fan of contemporary be-bop and took no interest in older jazz. 'I never heard that much about Bix ... Bobby Hackett doesn't go far enough for me. He plays the melody nicely, but there was not much real improvisation in his playing..., If I had to play that way every night, I would die of boredom inside of a month. (The Wire, Nov. 1985.)"

OTOH and FWIW De Valk quotes Carol Baker as saying that Chet's father, who played western swing (banjo and guitar), "was a big fan of Jack Teagarden." The young Chet did sing on the radio with his father's band.

I would say that Chet was just one of the world's ear players (although in his case that "just" is huge).

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The item from bebop spoken here says it's Ferrara who introduced Warne Marsh to Lennie Tristano.

No trace of a recording of Ferrara and Marsh together :(

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Don was one of the great trumpet players. There is a beautiful thing of him with Lester on Philology "Lester's Hat 3", with Bill Triglia which shows him at his best...

He seemed to prefer avoiding the limelight, disappearing into obscurity after Lennie Tristano praised him to the skies in a letter to Downbeat...something like "Don Ferarra is the next Messiah"...

I heard that in the 60's he used to teach in the same school with Warne for a time in LA, and then by cassette correspondence...

Q

Edited by Quasimado

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Sad news, excellent playing with Mulligan and Konitz.

edited for typo

Edited by JohnS

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There was a mini-school of those bebop-Bobby Hackett guys, all of whom I think knew each other fairly well -- Ferrara, Joseph, Phil Sunkel, perhaps Tony Fruscella, John Carisi, John Wilson (who recorded early on with Jimmy Raney) probably a few others. John Eardley? -- maybe but not quite.

I'm not saying they were bebop-Bobby Hackett guys in terms of actual origin, just that it sometimes sounded as though they were. Joseph and Fruscella were superb at their best; Ferrara I liked a lot, though he was so saxophonish/Tristano-ish at times that he could seem a bit at odds with his instrument.

A trumpet player who strikes me as having one foot (or perhaps just 2 or 3 toes) in that approach is Art Farmer. His quartet recordings with Jim Hall might be good examples.

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Was talking to Lee Konitz at the Vanguard tonight about Don Ferrara. He said he was really advanced... playing on a very high level, after which he supposedly had a change of embouchure or mouthpiece and then disappeared off the scene completely.

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Don Ferrara played very much in the Tristano idiom. He is one of the great unsung trumpet players. He played with great poise and spun out superb lyrical lines, fluent and effortless. I phoned him some ten years ago in a small town near San Diego, curious to find out if he ever recorded under his own name. Peter Ind must have tapes of the Lee Konitz Quintet from 1957, with Ronnie Ball and Dick Scott. I hope they will surface some day... Also, after the recording session which produced Konitz' album Very Cool, a session was played by the trio of Sal Mosca, Peter Ind and Don Ferarra. Pianist Billy Lester, a student of Sal's at the time, told me he heard the music at Sal's studio some 35 years ago. It was beautiful.

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Wow, intriguing stuff, George! That trio of Mosca, Ind and Ferrara certainly sounds tempting!

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