Archive for the Johnny (Johnnie) Pate Category

Chicago Tenor Sax (second installment)

Posted in 78 rpm, Chicago Tenor Sax, Eddie Johnson, Gene Wright, jazz, John Neely, Johnny (Johnnie) Pate, King Fleming, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2013 by crownpropeller

Welcome to the second installment of the loose series featuring some of the jazz and r’n’b tenor saxophonists that played in the clubs of Chicago in the 1940s and 1950s.

Although when talking about tenor saxophonists from Chicago one usually thinks of the Lester Young school of playing, relaxed, cool and way behind the beat, this town definitely had more to offer.

defender_aug_2_52

Eddie Johnson featured with the Jo Pernell Combo.
Chicago Defender, August 2, 1952.
From Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”.

The late Eddie Johnson (1920–2010) for example cited Lester Young as his greatest influence, yet that is not too obvious if you listen to his records. You can read all about Eddie Johnson at the page dedicated to him at at the Red Saunders Research Foundation by the way. After playing in lesser known bands for a while, Johnson joined Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five in early 1947, staying until the end of the year.  In 1951 and 1952 he recorded some sides for Chess Records, before the label began to concentrate  on Blues. In 1958 Johnson recorded as a sideman in a large James Moody group, and in 1964 he replaced Paul Gonsalves in the Duke Ellington Orchestra from time to time, when Gonsaves had problems related to substance abuse. After his last session for Chess in 1952, it took almost thirty years before Johnson recorded under his name again – for Chicago based Nessa Records. (he also recorded under his own name for Delmark in 1999).

But here’s Eddie in his younger days. “Twin Rock”, played by  Johnson (ts), Claude Jones (p), Johnny Pate (b) and  Oliver Coleman (d), was recorded for Chess at the Universal Studios in Chicago on September 12 1952. Billboard had this to say: “Instrumental is carried nicely by Johnson’s sax. It’s pleasant enough and could get some juke action”. So judge for yourself:

The next track I am offering you is special for different reasons. Eugene “Gene” Wright, later bassist with Dave Brubeck’s Quartet, had a nice band called Eugene Wright and his Dukes of Swing for a while in the 1940s. Red Holloway played with the Dukes of Swing as did Yuseef Lateef (at that time still known as Bill Evans). Neither Holloway nor Lateef were on the session from which I am offering you a piece here. But the band’s arranger and pianist who is playing on “Music Goes Round And Round” is none other than Sonny Blount – later known as Sun Ra! Another interesting figure also on this session is trumpeter Hobart Dotson – who later recorded with Sun Ra and with Charlie Mingus (somebody should definitely do an english language Wikipedia entry for Dotson!)

defender_dec_18_48From Chicago Defender, December 18, 1948. Wonder who is who?

But what about the tenor saxophonist we can hear here? His name is Melvin Scott. That you may never had heard of him before may well be based on the fact that this seems to be his only recorded session. On the  Willie Jones page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation, you can find some photos featuring Scott.

“Music Goes Round And Round” was recorded in December 1948 for Aristocrat Records, the forerunner of Chess Records. Billboard wrote: “A jump version of the Riley-Farley japery. It’s old enough – and the times are musically out of joint enough – to come back. Who knows?”

Melvin Scott only has a few bars here before baritonist Van Kelly takes over, but these bars sure are hot:

Part 3 of the second installment comes from a favourite of mine, the unjustly forgotten tenor player John Neely (1930–1994):

hamP_with_neelyJohn Neely (right) with Lionel Hamton, at Kunsthaus Luzern,
March 1, 1961. From concert review in “Luzerner Neue Nachrichten”

Neely’s fluid, light hearted and relaxed phrasing is more typical of the style saxophonists from Chicago are known for. You can hear that well on Count Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” as recorded by the band of pianist King Fleming around March 1954. You’ll hear John Neely, King Fleming, bassist Russell Williams and drummer Aubrie Jones. The singing is possibly by the band members except for the female voice who probably is Lorez Alexandria or Ethel Duncan. You can find more information about this session on the King Fleming page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation where there also some photos of John Neely:

There are very few solos known by Neely – and all are great. My friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger heard Neely when Neely was in Lionel Hampton’s orchestra during its 1961 European tour – and loved his playing right away. It took 36 years before Otto was to hear another John Neely solo again – King Fleming had told Robert Campbell that it was John Neely playing those wonderful lines on Fleming’s Blue Lake outing.

I love this record so much that I had to acquire the red wax 45rpm when it turned up for sale:

fleming_1_o_clockFrom the Crown Propeller Collection

But although it looks gorgeous, the 78rpm sounds much better, so I put that one up.

Someday – I hope soon – I will do a posting on Neely, presenting you two solos with the Hampton band which Mario Schneeberger and me recently discovered to be by Neely.And of course watch this space for further installments of the Chicago Tenor Sax series (go here to read and hear the first part)!

Enjoy!

Johnnie Pate at the Blue Note overdub

Posted in 33 rpm, jazz, Johnny (Johnnie) Pate with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2012 by crownpropeller

Some of the early LPs of bassist and arranger Johnny Pate are quite rare because they appeared on small or tiny labels from Chicago (or in one case Evanston, Illinois) that did not last long. So some years ago I was quite happy to acquire a rather beaten up copy of “Johnnie Pate at the Blue Note” on the Stepheny label – so I was able to fill in the details into my discography of Johnny Pate’s early works as a leader.

Up to now, Stepheny MF4005 which was released in 1958 was supposed to be a straight reissue of Salem LP2, an LP probably recorded in 1956 but released only in 1957 on Salem. And in all standard discographies the personnel is given as : Johnnie Pate (b, ldr); Wilbur Wynne (g); Floyd Morris (p); Johnny Whited (dr). Since I really do love that LP (a lot of my friends say it’s too soft, I’d call it subtle), I was always hoping to acquire a better copy with enjoyable sound. So when the original Salem pressing turned up a few weeks ago on ebay, I managed to buy it for less than I had thought. Much to my surprise I found that the Stepheny LP is not quite a straight reissue of the Salem LP. Continue reading

Another early Johnnie Pate 45

Posted in 45 rpm, jazz, Johnny (Johnnie) Pate with tags , , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by crownpropeller

Dan Kochakian was so nice as to send me a scan of one side of a DJ copy of Johnnie Pate’s Gig 300 (Things Ain’t What They Used To Be b/w Will You Still Be Mine ) which was taken from Johnnie’s Subtle Sounds LP, (Gig GLP-100). Thanks, Dan!

from the collection of Dan Kochakian

I have added this scan to my discography of Johnnie Pate’s early works (Pate started to write his name “Johnny” instead of “Johnnie” at sometime in the early sixties). From the Delta numbers in the wax of Dan Kochakian’s copy (17356 / 17357) we know that this 45 rpm was pressed at the Monarch pressing plant in august or in september 1957.

Not much is known about the Gig label. It could well be that some of its 45s only ever saw the light as DJ copys. This might for example also be the case for Gig 375 by the Billy Wallace Trio, a 45rpm with two tracks from Wallace’s very rare LP B.W. (Gig GLP-100):

from the collection of Armin Büttner

Delta numbers in the wax of this beauty (17360/17361) again point to a pressing date in august or in september 1957 – possibly on the same day.

For those of you who like some very nice (and very rare) piano trio music from the Chicago of the fifties i have put up sound files of the Johnnie Pate track as well as the Billy Wallace track:

Johnnie Pate: Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (taken from Gig LP-100)

Billy Wallace Trio: Good Bait (Of course this was not composed by Count Basie but by Tadd Dameron!)

Enjoy!

Early Johnny Pate update

Posted in 45 rpm, jazz, Johnny (Johnnie) Pate with tags , , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by crownpropeller

Johnnie Pate Gig 225B

Click here to listen to the Johnnie Pate Trio playing Stay in the Know.

I am sorry that nothing much happened here during the last weeks, simply because I did not find the time to put anything up. But here comes a nice addition to the discography I have made featuring the early recordings of Johnnie Pate, later to become Johnny Pate. If anyone knows more about the Gig label, I would be happy to hear from you.

P.S.: I have also added several scans of Johnnie Pate’s Federal 45 rpms.

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