Oh, how I love to get some authentic live hard bop! Even better if this happens on a tuesday, the day of the week on which I spent almost twelve hours in the office usually coming home tired and beaten. But last tuesday was different, as Jazzclub Moods, which is just around the corner from my office, presented a concert with legendary trombonist Curtis Fuller (born 1934) and his sextet. Fuller is of course mostly known for his work on several sessions with John Coltrane (e.g. “Blue Train”) and for his work in the Curtis Fuller / Benny Golson Jazztet. I think that Fullers 1950s and early 1960 sessions for Blue Note and Savoy belong to the best hard bop sessions of their time.
The 1976 European tour of Sun Ra and his Arkestra with concerts in Italy, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands did a lot for the popularity of that band from outer space among european jazz fans. One of the reasons for this besides the impressive show that Sun Ra and band delivered, was that several star owned European TV stations filmed the concerts (or at least parts thereof).
Here is some footage from the concert in Pescara, Italy (uploaded by youtube user chieflittlenuts):
Youtube user chieflittlenuts alo uploaded the first part of the surviving footage from the Montreux concert on July 9th
As I think there can never be enough good quality Sun Ra on youtube, I have uploaded the rest of the known footage from the Montreux concert: Twelve minutes of Sun Ra and his Arkestra playing Billy Strayhorn’s “Take The A Train”. It starts with a long solo introduction by Ra and also offers a classic John Gilmore solo and lots of drumming by Clifford Jarvis.
As in 1956, the Count Basie Orchestra also visited Switzerland in 1959. The concert they gave at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on February 6 was filmed – probably for the swiss television company. In Otto Flückiger’s archives I found a VHS tape with the TV broadcast from the Kongresshaus. Since I noticed that “The Midget” from this concert already can be found on youtube, I decided to offer you something else. So here you have the opening part of the TV broadcast. The orchestra starts with Basie Boogie, and after that they play Neal Hefti’s Lil’ Darlin’. The latter is especially remarkable because it offers the rare opportunity to hear as well as see a solo by Wendell Culley (1906–1983), as Basie usually gave most of the trumpet solos to Joe Newman or Thad Jones.
The personnel on this date: Wendell Culley, Thad Jones, Snooky Young, Joe Newman (tp); Henry Coker, Al Grey, Benny Powell (tb); Marshal Royal (as,cl); Frank Wess (as,ts,fl); Frank Foster, Billy Mitchell (ts); Charlie Fowlkes (bar); Count Basie (p, ldr); Freddie Green (g); Eddie Jones (b); Sonny Payne (dr).
After the Don Redman concerts in autumn 1946 nothing much happened in Switzerland in regard to modern jazz directly from the USA. One of the most important events in this context was Coleman Hawkin’s tour through several european countries in late 1949 and early 1950, among them Switzerland, where Hawkins had spent some time during the 1930s.
It is not quite clear to me from when to when the tour lasted; according to John Chilton’s “The song of the Hawk”, Hawkins flew from New York to Paris on November 29. He shortly rehearsed his group – James Moody on second ts, Nat Peck (tb), Hubert Fol (as), Jean-Paul Mengeon (p), Pierre Michelot (b) and Kenny Clarke (dr) – after that they played the Edouard VII Theatre in Paris. On November 30 they appeared in Bern, on December 1 they played in Zurich. On December 3 the Hawkins band played in Lausanne, this concert was released at sometime in the 1990s as TCB CD 02132.
Here’s the program for the swiss part of the concert that I found in the Otto Flückiger collection. As you see the front page was signed by Hawkins himself.
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
Although the Be Bop revolution had shaken the american jazz scene already four years earlier, a lot of european critics still did not know what to make of the “new” sounds that altogether were not so new all. Typical for the times is the following review of the Zurich concert– signed by one “-li” – which appeared in an unidentified newspaper (apparently the reviewer took Nat Peck as another french man).
Here is a translation of the above article:
Be Bop at the Kongress-Saal
About the jazz concert with Coleman Hawkins
That a Coleman Hawkins has subscribed to Be Bop is really surprising. It is a pity when you think of the good records this artist of the tenor saxophone has published – for example his famous Body And Soul!. This piece which was played in a crippled version on December 1 is a good indicator of this aberrance in jazz. This unmotivated music that does not consider harmonic and rhythmic laws was even tiring to jazz fanatics. The thousand listeners missing – who are always there when good authentic jazz is played (i.e. Sidney Bechet, Armstrong) and are able to fill the Kongress-Saal – proofed with ostentation that the audience in Zurich does not agree with this kind of jazz. Let us hope, that this silly fashion will not hold its ground for too long, as it would not be able to attract more people to jazz.
Ok, some of the participants were good musicians, especially the black ones. Drummer Kenny Clarke, who is not just anybody, was brilliant during his solos, and received the most applause by far. This shows that the audience who was attuned to sensation was really satisfied only by him. Unfortunately he found a lot of fun in being louder than his colleagues, forgetting that it also applies to jazz that the drum set must not be the main instrument after all. From the start second tenor saxophonist unwillingly made some mistakes ["Canards" meaning "ducks" is a french slang word] which he repeated often during the concert. Obviously this does not matter in Be Bop – because Moody apparently belongs to the greatest exponents of this style. Technically he was extraordinary, but he could not reach Hawkins in any way. The other four french musicians blended into the ensemble well, but it has to be said also: What is based on the instinctive naturalness of the negro often seems laughable with white people. The whole concert was tiring not the least because there were no soprano instruments in the group and the whole thing appeared monotonous – but that’s what Be Bop is. -li
Hawkins, the poor victim of a “silly fashion”? As you know – without me going into detail – nothing could have been further from the truth. It would have been better for “li” if he had just relaxed and enjoyed the pieces in Hawkins’ repertoire that might have better suited his tastes.
Here I am offering you a rendition of “Sophisticated Lady” as played by Coleman Hawkins, that you might not have heard before.
COLEMAN HAWKINS: SOPHISTICATED LADY
(Please excuse the digital noise, the source CD is slightly damaged)
It was recorded for broadcast around the time in question, although the exact provenance is unclear. I have this from a CD-R in the Otto Flückiger collection, the notes to which carry irritating data:
Track 13: Roy Eldridge/Rec. Zürich 1950/Sophisticated Lady
Track 14: Coleman Hawkins/Rec. München [Munich] 1949/Rockin Chair
As you see right away, something must be wrong here, as “Sophisticated Lady” is the Hawkins track, whereas “Rockin’ Chair” belonged to Roy Eldridge – it used to be Eldridge’s feature number when he was with Gene Krupa. But what about the dates and places?
The next date mentioned by Chilton for Hawkins’ tour is December 11, when the band played in London. Afterwards there was a jam session after which a writer from Melody Maker asked Hawkins what he thought about bop. His answer is quoted in Chilton’s The song of the Hawk:
Bop? Man, I ain’t never heard of bop! What is this bop? I understand it as a name, the name of a street. Bop Villa and next to it you got Pop Villa. Do I like the sound of the word? Yes, it sounds all right. I don’t know any bop music. I only know one music – the music that’s played. There’s no such thing as bop music, but there is such a thing as progress. What you are talking about is probably a commercial phrase, huh? A phrase that has been used to make something sell.
On December 13 Hawk played in Brussels. On December 21 the band recorded seven tracks for Disques Vogue in Paris – where Hawkins also spent Christmas. According to Chilton, Hawk played in Germany in January 1950 and – later in the month – with local musicians in Sweden. After that he returned to the USA.
So for the Hawkins track above, neither Munich 1949 can be right (as the band played Germany in January 1950) nor Zürich 1950 (as the band played Zürich on December 1 1949).
So what about the Roy Eldridge track? Have a listen:
ROY ELDRIDGE: ROCKIN`CHAIR
(Please excuse the digital noise, the source CD is slightly damaged)
I am not able to find out whether Eldridge was in Europe in 1949. Judging from his discographical entries he must have spent most of the year in the USA. But in 1950 Eldridge was touring Europe with the Benny Goodman orchestra for six weeks. From May 10 to May 12 1950 they were playing at the Kongresshaus in Zürich. It seems that Rockin Chair was the Eldridge feature number for this tour, it was also played at Benny Goodman’s Lausanne concert on May 13 (released as TCB (Swi)02142). Unfortunately I do not own the Goodman TCB CD, so I can not compare the versions of “Rockin’ Chair”.
Of course another possibility is that the mix-up on the CD notes is complete chaos, and that the Hawkins track is from Zürich, December 1, 1949, whereas the Eldridge track is from Munich, 1950.
So, can anyone identify the provenience of these two tracks? Does anyone know when (or if) Benny Goodman’s band played in Munich in 1950?
While master tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was living in Europe in the 1930s he also spend some time in Switzerland where he played with different swiss bands who enthusiatically took the chance to play with one of the originators of a music they were working hard to master, especially in regard to the subtle rhythmic relationships necessary to create a swinging feeling. Read more »
Going through Otto’s videos I found footage of Pharoah Sanders playing at the Kulturwerkstatt Kaserne in Basel in autumn 1999. If someone out there knows the exact day, it would be nice if you could let me know.
I am not 100 percent sure about the personnel, but it looks like the others are:
William Henderson: keyboards / Alex Blake: b /Hamid Drake dr.
Of course Hamid Drake is a definite. Please excuse the rather rough edits, it looks like the missing footage is lost. Enjoy!
Update (December 16 2011): Meanwhile everybody on these photos has been identified. Thanks to Peter Vacher and Bill Lee!
I had a request from Yvette Porter Moore who was in search for photographs of her Grand Uncle Wendell Culley. Culley (January 8, 1906 – June 1983) played trumpet with Noble Sissle, Lionel Hampton (from 1944 to 1949) and Count Basie (from 1951 to 1959). Indeed I found a photo in the Otto Flückiger archives that showed Wendell Culley and Duke Garrette 1948 in Lionel Hampton’s band. You can see this photo on Yvette’s blog.
When I looked for further photographs of Culley, I discovered a handful of photos showing different members of the Count Basie orchestra when it was touring switzerland in 1956. Most probably these were taken by Ernest Zwonicek in Geneva. It would be nice to know for sure though. I am not really a specialist on Basie, so I could not identify each and everyone. But I had help!
First up is a photo of Basie himself, probably taken at the Geneva train station.
Next up is the man who unwillingly made me look for these photos:
Update: This posting has become a little obsolete, for the full story of Don Redman’s 1946 european tour go here.
REVISED ENTRY: The title of Track 6 has been identified.
The 1946 european tour of Don Redman’s orchestra looms large in the memory of european jazz fans of a certain generation as it was the first opportunity to have a first hand experience of the recent developments in american jazz. Although Redman had no genuine Be Bop musicians in his band, there were a lot of creative spirits in it that did not miss the revolution that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie had started. And with For Europeans Only Redman had even brought a Tadd Dameron composition with him. It has to be said though, that not everybody liked what he heard though. And people who did like what they heard were sometimes thrown out of their own Jazz appreciation societies and Hot Clubs because of their “progressive tendencies”.
In 1983 danish company Steeplechase published the September 15 concert from the K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen:
and in 1999 swiss company TCB released a part of the October 27 concert from Victoria Hall in Geneva (on the sleeve it reads “Eictoria Hall”):
Recently I found some more music from this tour in Otto’s archives. These come from the October 31 concert at the Küchlin Varieté in Basel, Switzerland.
I have decided to put all of the surviving music from the Basel concert up here, as I think it is historically very important – and the rather bad sound quality robs it of any commercial value it might have. Read more »
I know some of you are here because you are interested in Milt Buckner. Well, this really fantastic footage is not from the Otto Flückiger archives, it comes from Youtube user bioskopvozdovac. It shows Buckner with some swiss guys playing for the Swiss television journal “Carrefour in” 1967. It is just so great to see Buckner in high quality that I had to post it here:
Since It’s dreadfully cold in Zurich, I offer this nice little page from JET magazine, Feb 25, 1954. I wish there would be snow now, indeed there’s nothing out there right now that you could call “wheather”.