Eddie Chamblee / Willene Barton / Dayton Selby
A while ago I asked in this post whether someone could identify the two people standing next to Eddie Chamblee (left) on this photo:
But I got no responses. Now last friday I went to one of my favourite record shops in town to buy the May 2014 issue of british magazine Blues and Rhythm which carries the story of tenor saxophonist Willene Barton, written by R’n’B researcher Dan Kochakian.
I had acquired Barton’s LP “There She Blows” a while ago. I knew nothing about Barton then and bought the record purely for the cover. And there is not much about Barton on the Internet, so I was glad to see her featured in one of my favourite magazines. Dan Kochakian is well known for finding out a lot about obscure musicians from the past and if you are interested in Willene Barton, I’d suggest you get the new Blues and Rhythm. Dan’s story features a lot of unknown photographs of Willene Barton and tells a lot about how hard it was in the 1950s for a woman to be recognized as a fine saxophone player. What really got my heart beating faster though was that the picture at the top of this blog post was shown in the article with a caption telling, who these people are. The reason for this photo accompanying Dan’s article is that the man in the middle is organist Dayton Selby, in whose band Barton was playing for some time in the 1950s. On the right is drummer Alford “Al” Griffin who used to play with Milt Buckner for some time in the 1950s (see photo below).
Dan dated the photo of Chamblee, Selby and Griffin to “late 1950s”, but this is to be doubted, since exactly this “Dayton Selby Trio”, as Dan calls it, recorded the LP The Rockin’ Tenor Sax of Eddie Chamblee under Chamblee’s name on February 27, 1964. And I do not think that the band had been together for five years then. John D. Monroe in his liner notes to Prestige LP7321 calls this “Eddie’s new group”.
So here is some music for your pleasure: First Willene Barton featured with the Dayton Selby Trio playing Barton’s Blues, recorded 1956 in Cincinnati and originally released on Gateway LP15 There She Blows:
Gateway was a budget label “selling to the masses”. So unfortunately the band never gets to stretch out and you can not really hear what Barton was able to do since everything runs under three minutes here and has the obligatory back beat (people say she was able to do a lot).
And here is the Chamblee/Selby/Griffin Trio playing George Gershwin’s Skang! in February 1964 as released on Prestige LP7321.
Since Prestige was a hardcore jazz label, everything is a little wilder here. And Chamblee is someone who should be known among more people. If you ever heard three or four Chamblee solos in a row, you will recognize his sound forever: definitively out of Ben Webster, but highly individual, rooted in the blues but not afraid of modernism – and always with a touch of humor in his playing. If you are into mainstream jazz with an edge, you should try to get hold of his two LPs for Emarcy/Mercury.