R.I.P. Harold Ousley

harold_ousley_1957Harold Ousley in 1957, taken from
Jazz Hot.

Yesterday the jazz world received the sad news of tenor saxophonist Harold Ousley’s passing.

Ousley who was born in Chicago on January 23, 1929, replaced Dick Davis in trumpeter King Kolax‘ band for a while in the mid-fifties after Davis’ passing. That is the reason why on one day in 1999 I went to Bern where Ousley was playing with his group at Marians Jazz Room. I tried to talk to Ousley about his time with Kolax during the break, but only had a minute or two since he was surrounded by people wanting to talk to him. The only thing he told me about Kolax was a “ladies’ men, always full of jokes”. Ousley asked me to talk to him again after the show, but this did not work out since I had to catch the train back to Basel where I was living at the time.

After the show there was just enough time to acquire one of the CDs that Ousley had brought with him and have it signed:


“That’s When We Thought Of Love” was recorded in 1986 (and released only in 1994 on J’s Way Records) with Ousley, pianist James Weidman, bassist Don Gladstone, drummer Curtis Boyd, and guitarist Greg Skaff. It is a nice and relaxed session which strangely is not mentioned in Tom Lord’s Jazz Records. But what really makes it special is the guest apperance of my favourite male jazz singer, Little Jimmy Scott on three tracks, “All Of Me”, Pennies From Heaven” and “Time After Time”.

Of these I especially love “All Of Me” because it is one of the rare opportunities to listen to the great late Jimmy Scott singing above a tempo that is not so morbidly slow as the ones he ususally chose (or was given). Add to that that Ousley plays a very fine solo here:

[audio http://www.jazzdocumentation.ch/blog/ousleyscottallofme.mp3].


And here is a rare track from Ousley’s days in King Kolax’s band. “Vivian” which was probably arranged by Sonny Blount later known as the one and only Sun Ra, was recorded on December 22, 1954 by  Kolax [William Little] (tp, ldr, voc); Harold Ousley (ts); Prentice McCarey (p); “Cowboy” Martin (b); Leon Hooper (d, Latin perc):


[audio http://www.jazzdocumentation.ch/blog/vivian_alt_take.mp3].

What you hear here is an alternate take of the version that was originally released on the 78 rpm Vee Jay 136. If you want to hear (and see) the original version, it’s here:


5 Responses to “R.I.P. Harold Ousley”

  1. Sad news about Harold Ousley’s passing – RIP
    Got to know Ousley only two years ago with his Bethlehem release and his playing in Grassella Oliphant’s “The Grass Roots”.
    Both recordings were reissued in Japan.
    And thank you for the very nice music!
    It will be a bit harder to get a recrding from King Kolax.

  2. Guenter George Schmid Says:

    Great posting – lots to learn……thanks.

  3. What a great latin sound on the 78 record.Thanks for share this music.

  4. Betty Deithorn Says:

    Know the great Harold Ousley was born in Chicago but trying to research if he had roots in Pittsburgh…any help is appreciated.

  5. Betty Deithorn Says:

    Shame no mention on Grammy’s memorial tonight. Awards shows never get it right. RIP Howard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: