Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Hardbopjazz

Jazz musicians that played chess.

23 posts in this topic

I know Clifford Brown was a very good chess player. I read it in an interview of musicians that played with Clifford. One of the musicians, I don't recall, claimed Clifford could beat anyone at chess.

Here is Charles Mingus. Any other jazz musicians that come to mind?. 

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Braxton.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember a photo of Braxton playing chess in a book that mentioned "in lean times, he made a living playing the game." 

Paul Desmond also played, as mentioned in a Doug Ramsey liner note.

I know that Brian Charette plays chess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Braxton also talks about his chess playing in Graham Lock's book Forces In Motion. ... I'm paraphrasing here, but I remember Braxton said that playing chess at a very high level wasn't conducive to being the sort of person he wanted to be. It brought out too much competitiveness. 

I thought that was a very honest, revealing comment.  ... Lock's portrait of Braxton is fascinating from start to finish.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He used to play competitively in Washington Square. There is always a game or two to be had.

Edited by Chuck Nessa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This Chessbase story  (with many pics) mentions Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Charles. Here (different source) is Diz vs. Gene Lees:

9fab2d3b6b1cc66568dca85ddd821622.jpg

I've gotta believe trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson is a chess player. He has a band called "Sicilian Defence" and recorded a number of tunes with chess titles.[Added] Indeed he is: https://jazztimes.com/features/profiles/jonathan-finlayson-the-chess-player/

Edited by T.D.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pianist Dick Wellstood.  I know this from personal experience, but find no documentation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MI0001448710.jpg?partner=allrovi.com

This is an album I don't have, but is there a reference to Roach playing chess in the liner notes?

Edited by Justin V

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ronnie Scott. There is a good photo of him playing chess with Diz in the back office at Ronnie Scotts Club.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ronnie Scott:9k=

Ronnie-Scott.jpg

An album cover:

71XNdUVPsZL._AC_UL872_QL65_.jpg

A Blue Note 45:

R-2032613-1366177488-7108.jpeg.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Julius Watkins.

Photo below (with photographer Susanne Schapowalow - from the book re-discussed right now in the Jazz in Print section) taken at a 1960 European tour with the Quincy Jones band. Schapowalow remembers in teh book that Watkins was a very good chess player and kept the set in place overnight in his hotel room to be able to continue playing against himself the next day.

35940096rk.jpg

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I played a lot of chess with (bassist) Victor Kaihatu and with (trombonist) Radu Malfatti.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a lovely photo somewhere of Braxton playing chess with Misha Mengelberg at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam. I believe Michael Vatcher plays very well too...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John Gilmore thoroughly kicked my ass in very few moves. Regardless of the fact that I'm a novice it was plain to see he'd been honing his skills for quite some time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

R-6016332-1408898127-1501.jpeg.jpg

Since all of these songs have titles related to chess, it's likely that John Lewis played as well.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/8/2019 at 3:01 AM, Michael Weiss said:

John Gilmore thoroughly kicked my ass in very few moves. Regardless of the fact that I'm a novice it was plain to see he'd been honing his skills for quite some time.

Wow!  Michael, where and how in the world did you have the chance to play chess with John Gilmore?! :o

EDIT:  Sun Ra played too, it would seem (and Arkestra drummer Tommy Hunter too, a name I must confess I didn't recognize - though maybe 20-25 years ago Hunter's name (and loads more Akrestra members) might have been more in my immediate recall).

Tommy Hunter on Sun Ra and John Gilmore
John Gilmore Memorial Broadcast, WKCR-FM, New York


HUNTER: . . . He used to come down every day and play me chess.

TP: He was a good chess player, Sun Ra?

HUNTER: Yeah, he was a pretty good chess player. He taught me chess.

TP: What was his game like?

HUNTER: He had a good game.

TP: Aggressive? Defensive?

HUNTER: He didn't like competition. He played me every day. So one day there was a man sitting there who was a Russian who was in the dance class or something, and he watched the game. So then after Sun Ra left he said, "Do you know what that man is doing to you? Let me show you what he's doing to you." -- and he showed me what Sun Ra was doing to me. The next day, when he came in, we played chess; I beat him for the first time in my life after about 200 games -- and Sun Ra never played me chess after that any more.

TP: That was it?

HUNTER: That was it. When I beat him, he says, "Okay, you learned your rudiments. Now you have to play the rest of the band." So he didn't play me any more after that.

TP: Do you think that's kind of a metaphor for his style with the band as well?

HUNTER: Well, somewhat. You know, I used to get criticized maybe more than any other drummer that ever worked with him

More if the interview (all non-chess related) here...

http://www.jazzhouse.org/library/?read=panken7

 

Noel Scott (Knoel Scott) too, a bit, it would seem...

Remembering June Tyson and John Gilmore

John was not a talkative or extroverted person at all. Maintaining a high level of privacy. His closest buddy in the band was Thomas ‘Bugs ’Hunter… the drummer/photographer and recording engineer for Sun Ra who with Pat Patrick and Walter Miller also started playing with Sun Ra as a teenager. John would occasional engage in a card game called ‘tonk’ with Arkestra members. They would wager and the obligation of the winner of the ‘pot’ was required to show up the next day or so with something he bought from his earnings from the game. John was a frequent winner. And a dapper dresser……now we know why….as the code prevented him from banking his earnings from the Tonk games.

This activity along with chess was the large extend of his hanging out with the ‘fellas’.

John was an excellent Chess player and would often play with Bugs and other high level players who would come through the band for a time.

I recall having the nerve to play John one chess game and he beat me in about 3 moves. I never bothered to waste his time at the chess board again. But I would watch him and bugs play.

 

From a nice, much longer piece at the link below.  I always have fond memories of my one brief interaction with June Tyson, who seemed like a real class act, and she was super nice to 21-year old me the one time I saw the Arkestra with Ra in Chicago in 1990.  Alas she was 7 years gone before I saw the Akrestra again in about 1999 (sans Ra, Gilmore, or June Tyson).

https://artyardrecords.co.uk/remembering-june-tyson-by-knoel-scott/

Edited by Rooster_Ties

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Wow!  Michael, where and how in the world did you have the chance to play chess with John Gilmore?! :o

I was on a long European tour with the Junior Cook/Bill Hardman Quintet (with Walter Booker and Leroy Williams), September and October of 1986. En route from Ancona to Milan, the promoter decided to have us layover a few hours in Bologna. Coincidentally also laying over in the Piazza Maggiore was Sun Ra's band. John had the chess board out and asked if I wanted to play.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/4/2019 at 0:54 PM, Justin V said:

MI0001448710.jpg?partner=allrovi.com

This is an album I don't have, but is there a reference to Roach playing chess in the liner notes?

There is no mention of chess in the liner notes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mingus was another. 

9161.jpg

Here is a  magazine cover with Braxton  

jazz-hot-no.-282-anthony-braxton-article

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe Joe Henderson.

There's a passage in Mark Stryker's Jazz In Detroit, p. 133: He [J. H.] also began to get a reputation as an odd duck in Detroit...Bassist Marlene Rosenberg recalled how on the road he once tried to engage her in a game of "air chess" without a board by calling out moves...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.