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About JamesJazz

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  • Website URL http://www.detroitmusichistory.com
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  • Location Metro Detroit
  • Interests Jazz Archaeologist
  1. Yusef Lateef RIP

    What a sound, and what a human being. His spirit was so strong; he was indomitable. He stood up to the Detroit Police 'back in the day' and that took guts. Fortunately he returned to Detroit many times over the years, and when he (still) played nightclubs, his weekends at Baker's were not to be missed, especially if Terry Pollard was onboard. "Lateef At Cranbrook" is but one of many great recordings. I'm told that there are more tapes from that same time - 1957 - maybe those will one day be issued. His autobiography is disappointing, as Mark noted, but Yusef knew what he wanted to say and he said it.
  2. Bud Spangler RIP

    I worked at WDET with Bud. He and Kenny Cox were my mentors and became close friends, too. Great radio voice, strong audio presence, knew his shit inside out. My goal was to be as professional as Bud and Kenny. I used to hang with Bud on Monday nites during "Jazz Today" (I hosted "Jazz Yesterday") and he would give me pointers about hosting a jazz program - "Outro, don't forget the outro, tell 'em what you played - and don't forget the rhythm section!" LOL I can see him playing along with Elvin on his practice pad, Bud would point out nuances and lay his always-interesting comments on me. We spoke a few months ago, I have much love, admiration, respect for Bud. It was a drag when he left town. I have a book he gave me that is a prized possession. You're always in my heart, Bud.
  3. Al, these "oldtimers" you speak off, would you please name them? Thanks. Certainly many of the oldtimers on the Detroit scene thought that was true
  4. Alice Coltrane x Kenny 'Pancho' Hagood

    Pancho worked around Detroit in the early 80's, sharp dresser, nice guy, smooth singer bona fide Hipster. He struggled with some demons. There is a session featurinig Pancho with David Swain's orchestra. They played some of the classic Diz/Miles numbers.
  5. Kenny G

    I read Mike Zwerin's profile of Kenny G a while ago, and it is really funny.
  6. Detroit Pianists

    Mustn't forget Alma Smith, "The Countess of Swing" who was a child prodigy and played fine piano until a year before her death earlier this year. Alma recorded with The Counts and Countess in the late forties, also made three soundies with the C&C. At her best, she was elegant and creative. Two other fine pianists: Johnny Allen, still playing a bit age 95, former MD of the Club Congo Orchestra, from whence came Wardell, Teddy Edwards, Howard McGhee, Big Nick Nicholas, Al McKibbon and Kelly Martin too. And Earl "The Pearl" Van Riper, who recorded with Cleanhead Vinson. Earl was brilliant, a fine pianist and storyteller too, one of those guys you would listen to and all else was forgotten, entrancing, melodic, just wow. Earl always told a story with his solo, had a distinctive sound and style. And he always knew what notes to play, and when to play them. The man had taste, in other words. I hate to sound disappointed, but I don't hear guys like him anymore, musicians that captivate me and hold my attention. Or, very few musicians who do that.
  7. Detroit Pianists

    Big topic, good question. Many greats listed above, nice that Todd Rhodes (interesting career in early swing and early R&B) and TJ Fowler, (bandleader/early Motown involvement/landscaper/teacher/composer) get some ink. Willie Anderson...maybe the greatest pre-bop Detroit pianist of all. http://detroitmusichistory.com/W_Anderson.pdf Another fine pianist: Otis "BuBu" Turner, early bebop exponent, made some fine sides with Kenny Burrell, never reissued, unfortunately. Terry Jean Pollard was amazing as her stuff with Yusef (and Terry Gibbs) will show. Hersal Thomas spent time in Detroit, he died here too. There was a lot of traffic between Chicago and Detroit, esp. among blues pianists. Detroit had no "real" recording studios until around 1933 so early Detroit bands like McKinney's or Goldkette waxed in Chicago or NYC.
  8. What Artist/LP/CD Got You Hooked On Jazz

    Sun Ra I experienced the Arkestra at Detroit's Grande Ballroom one night in 1968. Next day I went out and found "The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra" on ESP, and was quickly sucked into the jazz vortex... I began to carry jazz LP's with me and tried to "enlighten" my psychedelic brothers, to no avail. I ended up with new friends!

    Faruq had been in poor health for a few years, always carried his Oxygen bottle but could blow his ass off, as any recent recs will demonstrate. He was born on February 4, 1942, in Detroit. Griot Galaxy, with Jaribu, Tony Holland, Tani Tabbal a.o., was an amazing band. Faruq had a radio program for a few years at WDET called "Met-Ezzthetics". He had insightful, candid opinions and thoughts. Here's an interview from 2006 on "Detroit JazzStage": http://lberns.com/jazzstage/2006/10/19/djs-welcomes-faruq-z-bey/
  10. This is a worthy book, but yes it could have been more. Has many interviews (nice to see Bill DeArango quotes) and new (to me) photographs. It's worth getting. I got my copy when it came out in 2001, I think through the author. Paul Combs' book is supposed to come out later this year; we're hoping to have him in the Jazz Talk Tent at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival.
  11. Crusaders

    The 'buried his horn' comment was about Ronnie Fields, not Leon, sorry for any confusion. From what Kenny and others said it seems like Leon had a pretty tough time during his last years, exactly what was not specified. Charles Moore got a phD in ethnomusicology and lives on the West Coast, think around LA. He was in town for the Det Jazz Fest maybe ten years ago and seemed to be doing well. Don't know why he decamped from Det...
  12. Crusaders

    Thanks for the comments...I knew Kenny for many moons, usually he had very thoughtful opinions and summaries, but maybe his story don't hold water. Bert thought the same things about the Crusaders, but who knows? Cox said BFQ was influenced 'up one side and down the other' by Miles/Trane. Ref. Leon Henderson, he ran into problems and fell off the map I think in the eighties. Cox tried to track him down several times over the years, no luck. I have the Bert Myrick CD (actually BFQ) and it sounds mighty fine. Kenny had several tapes of the group. He and Will Austin told me that Ronnie Fields got so frustrated by the failed record contract thing that he buried his axe in the backyard, never to play again. Ended up selling cars in LA, died a few years ago. Never heard of a musician doing that - burying their axe, I mean.
  13. Crusaders

    FWIW, there was a Detroit band - the Bohanon-Fields Quintet - that may have influenced the Crusaders. BFQ was active in the early/mid sixties and pianist Kenny Cox gave the Crusaders three originals, (“Trance Dance” & “The Latin Bit” were issued). Bohanon and Fields made overtures to Limelight Records about the possibility of a recording contract. Limelight liked the idea but wanted a sound closer to the Jazz Crusaders, then selling many discs for Pacific Jazz Records. Ironically, the Crusaders recorded three of Cox’s compositions turned up at Bohanon-Fields rehearsals and incorporated some of what they heard into their own sound. I haven't dug into this too much, don't know if the Crusaders were active in Detroit at that time. Would any of our members care to comment on Kenny's assertion?
  14. For Detroit "Jump Blues" history, Before Motown has a decent survey, and a detailed bio of pianist Todd Rhodes is available at http://www2.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=6580. What I love about those jump bands is that many pre-eminent 'modern' saxmen cut their teeth in those groups; fer instance, Billy Mitchell played in King Porter's band in Detroit around 1948, three years later he's leading the finest modern jazz band in town over at the Blue Bird Inn. And let's not forget that Trane worked with Gay Crosse...
  15. Bess Bonnier (1928-2011)

    Bess and Harold McKinney share the same birth year, and both came up during a very fertile period in Detroit jazz. Fine pianist, good composer. She'd ask to hold the hand of the person to whom she was speaking, and could sense sincerity - guess she had we'd call a good 'bullshit detector'. Bess was a direct no-nonsense person with a wide range of interests. Her 'suite william' was very pretty and reflected her love of language esp. Bill's stuff. We have some nice quotes from Bess in "Before Motown." Bess worked regularly with Jack Brokenjaw (brokensha) and had some tasty trios with Frank Isola, among others. I recall hearing that her husband (first?) hit the Irish Sweepstakes for several millions of dollars and vanished the next day. Dave Usher, who produced many fine sessions for Argo (and DeeGee, among others) knew her well, recorded her for Argo, had great respect for Bess. She hadn't had too many regular gigs the last decade or so (she wasn't the only one, was she?) and was dogged by unspecified health issues. Hearing Bess play or talk was always a treat. You could always catch Bess at the Michigan Jazz Festival each summer. Don't remember her playing at the Det jazz festival in recent years - the 'new process' requires artists to submit music online, which some of our elders are unwilling or unable to do; asking someone of Bess' stature to 'audition' for a jazz gig really rankles me, but that's the way it is, folks...