Elmo

Dupree Bolton: An Uneven Life

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With previous features on pianist Wade Legge, the Great Day in Harlem Photograph “Mystery Man” - William J. Crump, drummer Frankie Dunlop, vocalist Jimmy Rushing, critic and author Nat Hentoff, and Jazz Party: A Great Night In Manhattan featuring the Miles Davis Sextet and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the September 9, 1958 fest that Columbia Records put on at the Plaza Hotel for its executives and guests, Steve Siegel has assumed the role of “unofficial” staff writer for JazzProfiles.

His latest effort is about the obscure trumpet player Dupree Bolton [1929-1993], who appeared, seemingly from nowhere in California in 1959 and set the West Coast jazz world abuzz with his performance as a sideman. He then disappeared just as quickly and reappeared a few years later, again as a sideman, displaying mind-blowing chops. He was then gone again, never to officially record again for the remainder of his life.

https://jazzprofiles.blogspot.com/2021/07/dupree-bolton-uneven-life-by-steve.html?m=1

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Thanks for posting this.

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Posted (edited)

what I found a bit puzzling when I read this yesterday (great read!) was that there was no reference to the San Quentin Jazz Band book by Pierre Briancon... I know it's in French... but it does have a 50 page chapter on Dupree Bolton with many additional details (arrest records being a major additional source)

Edited by Niko

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well, there are those two albums, Katanga and The Fox. Then there's the stuff in the Onzy Matthews Select, some tracks with Matthews (one or two solos) and that abandoned Pacific Jazz Session (two tracks). The latter session is also on the Bolton Uptown CD... That cd also contains a session of an Oklahoma prison band and a live session of the Katanga band that's also on youtube, e.g. this track

then there's the album of that Oklahoma prison band (this one) which is distinct from the material on the Uptown cd... I don't have this but I dimly remember I once found samples that sounded like bits of Bolton on there... and finally there's the question of possible 1940s recordings which is analyzed in a really nice document here, arguing that quite a bit of what used to be attributed to Bolton comes from an even more obscure early bop trumpeter (Willis Nelson)... it's not much but it's not nothing either...

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10 hours ago, Niko said:

what I found a bit puzzling when I read this yesterday (great read!) was that there was no reference to the San Quentin Jazz Band book by Pierre Briancon... I know it's in French... but it does have a 50 page chapter on Dupree Bolton with many additional details (arrest records being a major additional source)

Where can I find this book?

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I never thought to look there because it is not in English. Stupid me. I was worried I would get a translation. I want the original in French. Definitely recommended?

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Posted (edited)

Let's say it like this: I don't regret getting it at all even though my French is so poor that I wouldn't want to really judge the book... the author went into the records of the california prison system (and similar sources) to dig up what they had about a group of musicians who were active in a prison band in San Quentin in the early 60s - and they had a lot. Trumpeters Nat Meeks and Dupree Bolton, altoists Frank Morgan, Art Pepper and  Earl Anderza, pianist Jimmy Bunn all get a chapter and there are also some general chapters... at 350 pages it's a sizeable document and the type of information (endless cycles of arrests, releases, probabation violations...) I haven't seen in this (or a comparable) level of detail in other books about the era - even though they evidently were an important part of the jazz life at the time... Ted Gioia's West Coast Jazz book is certainly the more essential book about this period (because it's broader and says more about the music) and there are, of course, also quite a few autobiographies which touch upon similar topics, addiction and the jazz life in California ca 1960 (Art Pepper and Hampton Hawes come to mind, two of the big autobiographies in jazz, also Roy Porter...)... but I would still say that this book has a lot of unique information and gives you a perspective that the other books don't have, looking with information from both sides at the interactions between the jazz musicians and the legal system

edit: reading a bit in it, maybe the image I give above slighlty one-sided... it's not just legal records but also concert reviews from the prison newspaper that went into the book - and various other sources for the times these people spent out of prison....

Edited by Niko

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I cannot comment on the contents, of course, but from your description this basically sounds to me like this book is another example of French publishing houses willing to take MUCH more chances with niche subjects and publish them in a decent form to give exposure to the authors and their writing and thorough research - way more than in other countries, e.g. Germany, for exampre, where highly specialized minority-interest subjects like this no doubt would force the authors into self-publication or print-on-demand at best.
I have seen other cases like this among French non-fiction publications and IMO this alone speaks for the book.

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I remember Richard William's account in Granta 69, In Search of a Long Lost Trumpeter. Did research for Sunenblick's reissue.

Jim

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I ran into Bolton playing on the street in San Francisco's Chinatown, maybe 1985. He was clearly a mess, but a very nice guy.

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Allen!

Good to hear from you. Hope you are well.

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I have something called Dupree Bolton Discography by Bob Weir. Total of 8 pages. Can't find a photo of it.

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On 8/4/2021 at 10:20 PM, Quasimado said:

Allen!

Good to hear from you. Hope you are well.

thanks, I've been a bit scarce because of some health issues, but am recovering.

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