Blindfold test resolved: Big Nick Nicholas at the West End

Update (June 16, 2012): Big Nick Nicholas is playing at the West End here, not at the Tin Palace as I had erroneously written.

Well my little “Body and Soul” blindfold test did not last long. I promised to give you the solution by the end of june, but it did take Bo Scherman less than an hour to figure out that the tenor player in question is Big Nick Nicholas (1922–1997). Congratulations, Bo! I would not have thought that someones comes up with the solution THAT quick.

Big Nick Nicholas was playing this beautiful rendition of “Body and Soul” with his quartet at the West End in N.Y.C. on October 3, 1979.

Big Nick Nicholas at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

George Walker “Big Nick” Nicholas played with Hank Jones, Thad Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Hot Lips Page and Earl Hines  in the 1940s and joined Buck Clayton’s band in 1955. In the early sixties Nicholas inspired John Coltrane to write his composition “Big Nick”, dedicated to him.

It seems that Nicholas was away from the N.Y.C scene for a while. In one of the announcements on Otto’s tape from the West End, Nicholas mentions that he has not been in New York for years. Besides recording two sets of Nicholas’ quartet, Otto also took quite a few photographs (you can click on them to enlarge them) and did not forget to take the promotional flyer for the engagement with him  (subtitled “An Infuential Tenor Saxophonist returns To The Big Apple”) on which Phil Schaap  tells us more details about Nicholas’ career:

Promotional text for Big Nick Nicholas’ engagement at the West End.
Written by Phil Schaap (check out philschaapjazz.com)
Flyer from the collection of Otto Flückiger

So here are the promised photos, as well as some music:

First here is “Body and Soul” again (it was the second tune of the first set btw), so you do not have to switch between posts:

And here is the first tune of the first set: “Idaho”

Big Nick Nicholas was accompagnied at the West End by Bross Townsend at the piano, bassist Peck Morrison and drummer Ronnie Cole:


Bross Townsend, Peck Morrison (hidden), Big Nick Nicholas and
Ronnie Cole at the West End, October 3, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger

Bross Townsend at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

Bross Townsend at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

 
Peck Morrison at the West End, October 3, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger
Peck Morrison at the West End, October 3, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger
 

Big Nick Nicholas at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

 
Ronnie Cole at the West End, October 3, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger

Ronnie Cole at the West End, October 3, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger
Bross Townsend at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger
 
 Bross Townsend at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger
 Big Nick Nicholas at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger
 Bross Townsend at the West End, October 3, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger
Bross Townsend, Peck Morrison, Big Nick Nicholas and Ronnie Cole
at the West End, October 3, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger
Peck Morrison at the West End, October 3, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger
Now next time I am putting up a blindfold test, I am going to make sure it’s really hard!
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2 Responses to “Blindfold test resolved: Big Nick Nicholas at the West End”

  1. Alex Hoffman Says:

    Thanks so much this is amazing!!!

  2. [...] Thanks for that link. I just checked it out last night, as I had heard about the man for years as the namesake of 'Trane's tune, without ever seeing him our hearing him blow. He was for sure a baaad dude back in the day! You may have also seen this: Blindfold test resolved: Big Nick Nicholas at the West End | Crownpropeller's Blog [...]

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