Archive for the Bross Townsend Category

Bross Townsend feat. Bubba Brooks 1995

Posted in Bross Townsend, clips, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2012 by crownpropeller

In March 1995 my friend Otto went with his friend from school days Aleardo Buzzi to New York. Buzzi was producing jazz records for the swiss record company Claves Records at that time, and Otto had persuaded Buzzi to produce a CD under the leadership of pianist and arranger Bross Townsend. The idea was to feature tenor saxophonist David “Bubba” Brooks (1922–2002, brother of the more well known Tina Brooks) in a set of classic jumping jazz-cum-r’n’b tunes from the 1940s.  Some days or hours before the recording (which took place on march 29 and march 30 1995) Otto was there with his camera when the band rehearsed for what was to becomes Claves Jazz 50-1095, Bross Townsend’s “I Love Jump Jazz”.

From Otto’s footage filmed at the rehearsal I am offering you Bubba Brook’s interpretation of “When I Grow To Old To Dream”.  It could well be that Otto – who is listed as coproducer on the CD sleeve – suggested this tune, as a memory to Arnett Cobb’s famous 1947 two-part-version  for Apollo. I know that Otto loved Cobb’s version, he used to sing along with it every time it was playing. Anyway this posting is not about Cobb but about the great Bubba Brooks, so here we go!

The band consists of: Irving Stokes (tp), Clifford Adams (tb) David “Bubba” Brooks, Reginald Woods (ts) Tom Olen (bar) Bross Townsend (p,arr,ldr) Bob Cunningham (b) and Clyde Lucas or Winard Harper (d)

Enjoy!

Blindfold test resolved: Big Nick Nicholas at the West End

Posted in Bross Townsend, documents with tags , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2012 by crownpropeller

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:

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Frank Foster/Bill English Quintet: Left Bank Jazz Society, 1966

Posted in Bross Townsend, documents, Frank Foster, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by crownpropeller


As you may have noticed the “unidentified” Big band at the Village Vanguard in 1980 turned out to be Frank Foster’s Orchestra. Unfortunately I do not find any audio documentation from this concert in Otto’s archives. But here is a real nice track with Foster (see picture on the right) that I discovered while looking for Foster’s music from the Village Vanguard. It’s an excerpt from a radio show, presenting 27 minutes of the Frank Foster/Bill English Quintet at the Madison Club in Baltimore on October 16, 1966, playing for the Left Bank Jazz Society . Besides Foster and drummer English, the band contained trumpeter Dave Burns, pianist Bross Townsend and bassist Chris White.

This tape probably was given to my friend Otto by pianist Bross Townsend, whom Otto got to know sometime in the late seventies. Townsend (1933–2003) was a fixture on the New York scene from the sixties to the nineties, freelancing most of the time. For a while he worked as the pianist with singer Dakota Staton.  Townsend  and Otto became friends and Townsend copied different tapes of bands in which he was involved for Otto. You’ll probably read more about Townsend on this blog at a later date.

So here’s the Frank Foster/Bill English Quintet at the Madison Club for the Left Bank Jazz Society in Baltimore on October 16, 1966. They are playing an ultra-fast rendition of “Autumn Leaves” (or is it?). Especially remarkable is how much Foster at that time was under the influence of a certain other tenor saxophone player. But who was not?

P.S.: Ellery Eskelin has uploaded a Chronologial Listing of Concerts sponsored by the Left Bank Jazz Society: Very interesting!

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