George Braith at New York Jazz Festival 1979

When my late friend Otto Flückiger went to New York City in October 1979, he also visited the 1st New York Jazz Festival, a free event organized (mostly, I guess) by trumpeter Dizzy Reece. There is (rather fragmentary) footage from these events (not by Otto) on youtube.

Concerts took place in two locations, an open air space in Damrosch Park – where Otto was located – and Lincoln Center – where apparently the footage above is from (there are also parts II and III of this footage on youtube, go check the channel of MrBebopyo).

All in all Otto recorded around five hours of the proceedings in Damrosch Park on cassette tapes. Among the artists to be heard on this cassettes are trumpeters Dizzy Reece and Tommy Turrentine , saxophonists Charles Davis, Clifford Jordan, Harold Vick, and Harold Ousley as well as a bunch of drummers, bassists and piano players. Otto also made a lot of photos and there are a lot of musicians on them that I could not yet identify. I will try to post them here later.

Unfortunately most of the music on Otto’s tapes from this historic event suffers from very bad sound (open air atmosphere, traffic, audience talk, etc.) so there really is not much sense in offering the music here.


George Braith, NYC Jazz Festival, Oct. 5, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger

One really quite listenable portion though is very much worth offering here. So here is straight from the Otto Flückiger files a portion of a duo set by (double-) saxophonist George Braith with a drummer I was not able to identify from the photos Otto made. There are pointers though that this could be Sonny Brown. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

Since Braith is starting this track with motives from “A Night In Tunisia”, never playing it fully though, I decided to call this track Tunisian Jam for the sake of convenience. Sound is very bad at first but gets much better after 40 seconds when the drummer comes in.

Is this Sonny Brown?


Unidentified drummer, NYC Jazz Festival, Oct. 5, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger

Here is another view of the drummer:

ImageWho is this man? NYC Jazz Festival, Oct. 5, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger

Here is a second excerpt from the proceedings. Braith and the drummer are joined by a trumpeter later in this piece. It’s a classic bop tune I can’t  remember the name of right now.

The trumpeter may or may not be Dizzy Reece who can be seen in the background of the last photo from this session. Otto did not write down the name of the trumpeter, he just wrote “technically good” – which I guess he may not have noted down for an old professional like Dizzy Reece, so this may well be someone else.  On the other hand Reece can be seen on the last photo from this session (I do not know the true chronology of these photos).


Unidentified drummer, Dizzy Reece (in doorway), George Braith,
NYC Jazz Festival, Oct. 5, 1979. Photo by Otto Flückiger


P.S.: Apparently George Braith is still active, check his website, where you can also buy cool Bop Clothes, hand designed by George. Also check George’s record company, Excellence.

2 Responses to “George Braith at New York Jazz Festival 1979”

  1. George is more than quite active, and still kickin’ ass – I ran into him just the other day. You could just e-mail him the questions and he also uses facebook. He is also quite the archivist and may appreciate a copy of this recording.

  2. the excellenct records website seems to be back up and running now.

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