Posts Tagged ‘ray brown


Seymour Lefco: The Jazz Dentist.

On September 6, 2006, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle published an article, announcing “Milwaukee native and renowned “jazz dentist” Seymour Lefco died on Aug. 28 at age 91. He practiced general dentistry in the city of Milwaukee for more than 50 years, and was a board member of the Wisconsin State Dental Society. He was known as “the jazz dentist” because many great jazz musicians sought him out for dental work”.

Among those were Harry Belafonte, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, singer Anita O’Day, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillepie and Gerry Mulligan. Although the news itself is rather sad the story behind is interesting as not many dentist will be able to call themselves”jazz dentist” having had such jazz greats as patients. But what makes the story so special ?

During a concert in The Concertgebouw in my hometown Amsterdam (The Netherlands) Oscar Peterson announced he had gotten a song from Ray Brown, composed by a young man from Washington D.C. by the name of Clement Wells. The song was called”You Look Good To Me” which became a signature song of the Peterson Trio with Ray Brown on double bass and Ed Thigpen on drums. They recorded the song on the wellknown album “We Get Requests“.

Now back to the article in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle where it was stated that Ray Brown also gave the song too Seymour Lefco who wrote the  lyrics for it. Leaves the question: who was Clement Wells ? At least on the internet I could not find anything, with the exception of a letter to the editor I found in a magazine callled Ebony, in which a Clement A Wells Jr. wrote about a tribute to Joe Louis.

The central figure in this story is Ray Brown who brought all the players together, but the intriguing question is, “who was Clement Wells ?”. Where did he live, did he write more songs ? Did he have a musical carreer ? In other words who was he ?

As I could not find anything I address this question to my American jazzfriends: can you please help me out finding who Clement Wells was ?


Bud On Bach.

In de blogpost van 4 mei 2012 berichtte ik over het werk van J.S. Bach, uitgevoerd door het Jacques Loussier Trio. Maar ook de geniale pianist Bud Powell kon ermee terecht. Luister in bovenstaande video naar Solfeggietto van Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, zoon van. Het leven van Powell werd overheerst door psychotische periodes die hij doorbracht in inrichtingen. Drankmisbruik verergerde zijn problemen. Maar hij was tevens een van de grondleggers van de Bop en dat culminieerde in zijn compositie “Fugue It” een woordspeling op het Latijnse “Tempus Fugit” hetgeen “de tijd vliegt” betekent. In onderstaande video een uitvoering van dit stuk uit 1949 met Ray Brown op bas en Max Roach op drums. En voor wie goed luistert hoort in het stuk de hand van Bach, zowel J.S. als C.P.E.


Norman Granz presents film: “IMPROVISATION” with unique Charlie Parker / Coleman Hawkins duet

Gjon Mili shooting Improvisation (Google / LIFE Images)

In 1950 Norman Granz started to produce a new short film with photographer Gjon Mili as sequel to their earlier film Jammin’ The Blues“. It was only released in 1996 as part of a film called “Improvisation”  which included a compilation of performances of Granz’ musicians over the 1950 – 1970 timeframe. Several parts of this film are on You Tube available (at least until the day of writing this blogpost).


Part 3 – Announced by Norman Granz, this part of the film is about a piece performed by the rythm section with Hank Jones (piano), Ray Brown (bass) and Buddy Rich on drums.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4



Basie’s jam with Ray and Jimmy in “Nob’s Blues”.

Through his involvement in the famous Montreux Jazz Festivals Norman Granz used the ample opportunities the festival gave him to promote his Pablo musicians. As someone said, “Granz is not an innovator but a popularizer”. That remains to be seen in the light of history but fact of the matter is that through Montreux he used a lot of commercial opportunities like selling records and video’s / DVD’s of the festival. In 1977 he put together a group of musicians lead by Count Basie. In this video we hear the announcement of Norman Granz introducing the Basie Trio with Ray Brown and drummer Jimmie Smith in a brilliant jam playing Nob’s Blues.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4


Norman’s idea: Sarah’s duets with Oscar, Joe, Ray and Louie

In 1978 Norman Granz contracted Sarah Vaughan for his Pablo jazz label. He felt that this great singer did not get the chance enough to record material in line with her talent and skills. That year he released “How Long Has This been Going On” where she was accompanied by Granz’ veterans Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, Ray Brown and Louie Bellson. Again Granz showed his great producer skills  by suggesting that Sarah should sing duets with each of the quartet members: “More Than You Know” with Peterson, “My Old Flame” with Pass, “Body And Soul” with Brown and “When Your Lover Has Gone” with Bellson. Listen in below video’s to these four brilliant duets where the original compositions are “re-written” by Sarah and the musicians.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

Duet with Oscar Peterson “More Than You Know” (with Peterson making a reference to “Concierto de Aranjuez” in the intro)

Duet met Joe Pass “My Old Flame”

Duet with Ray Brown “Body And Soul”.

Duet with Louie Bellson “When Your Lover Has Gone”.


Norman Granz records Charlie Parker with Strings.

While Norman Granz successfully grew his JATP business he also did very well as a record producer. He was not afraid of putting money in projects which were questionable in as much they would be commercially a hit. In 1956 he founded Verve records in which he folded his earlier founded Clef, Norgran and Down Home labels. Verve would become one of the most successful independent jazzlabels. The Charlie Parker with Strings project was a controversial project. Granz later said he talked Charlie Parker into doing it whereas Parker said he had already wanted to do this way back in the forties and that Granz finally let him do it and put up the money. The album was praised and critizised but everybody seems in agreement that Just Friends is a great version by Charlie Parker with Ray Brown and Buddy Rich in the rythm section.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4


Norman Granz: Introduces Ella Fitzgerald to the JATP concerts.

Jazz At The Philharmonic (Gjon Mili) - Google / Life Images

Since 1945 Norman Granz had taken the Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts on tour in the US. On one of those tours Ella Fitzgerald visited the JATP concert as a spectator to see her husband bassist Ray Brown whom she had married a year earlier. Ella was spotted during the concert by the audience which became so enthusiastic that she was invited on stage. She performed “How High The Moon” and traded fours with the ensemble. The public brought the house down. The commercially very sensitive Granz contracted Ella immediately for the JATP concerts where she made her debut in the Carnegie Hall in New York on February 11,1949. Below YT video is of a JATP concert of the second tour that year with Ella Fitzgerald – vocal,Roy Eldridge – trumpet,Tommy Turk – trombone, Charlie Parker – alto sax, Flip Phillips, Lester Young – tenor saxes, Hank Jones – piano, Ray Brown – bass, Buddy Rich – drums.

To play the video uninterrupted it is recommended to first put it on pause and upload before playing.

Sinds 1945 had Norman Granz de Jazz At The Philharmonic concerten op tournee door Amerika genomen. Op een daarvan bezocht Ella Fitzgerald een JATP concert om haar echtgenoot bassist Ray Brown te zien waarmee ze een jaar eerder getrouwd was.Tijdens het concert werd Ella door het publiek opgemerkt dat zo enthousiast werd dat ze op het toneel werd uitgenodigd. Ze zong “How High The Moon” deed “4 om4”met het ensemble. Het publiek brak de tent af. De commercieel ingestelde Granz contracteerde Ella direct voor de JATP concerten waar ze op 11 Februari 1949 haar debuut maakte in de Carnegie Hall in New York. Onderstaand is een YT video te zien van de tweede tournee dat jaar met Ella Fitzgerald – vocal, Roy Eldridge – trompet, Tommy Turk – trombone, Charlie Parker – alt sax, Flip Phillips, Lester Young – tenor saxes, Hank Jones – piano, Ray Brown – bass, Buddy Rich – drums.

Om de film ononderbroken af te spelen verdient het aanbeveling deze eerst op pauze te zetten en te uploaden voor het afspelen.

Bron / Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – Univerity of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

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