On March 12, 16 and 30, 1965 four men walked into the recording studio at Atlantic Records and laid down the tracks that would become Sing Me Softly Of The Blues. Produced by Arif Mardin, this Art Farmer Quartet album was released that same year. It is just 34 minutes and 50 seconds long and Farmer’s twentieth album and his 4th recording for Atlantic.
The album is comprised of just six songs: Sing Me Softly of the Blues (Carla Bley) – 6:44, Ad Infinitum (Bley) – 6:21, Petite Belle (Traditional) – 4:08, Tears (Pete LaRoca) – 5:45, I Waited for You (Walter Gil Fuller) – 5:55 and One for Majid (LaRoca) – 5:57.
The quartet personnel are: Art Farmer/flugelhorn, Steve Kuhn/piano, Steve Swallow/bass and Pete LaRoca/drums.
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Nobuo Tsukahara, better known as Nobuo Hara was born November 19, 1926 in Toyama, Japan. He played in a military band during World War II and in a Tokyo officer’s club after the war. Realizing classical music was not going to pay a living wage he ventured into jazz and joined the ensemble Sharps and Flats, taking leadership in 1952, a position he held for over six decades. This band helped to make jazz popular in Japan after WWII and they recorded copiously as well as appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1967.
In 2007 at 80 years old he still the led Nobuo Hara and His Sharps and Flats, the 17-piece big band. Sharps and Flats have accompanied Chiemi Eri and included sidemen such as Norio Maeda, Shotaro Moriyasu, and Akitoshi Igarashi. Noted for their sweet rhythms and their swing they have continued to mesmerize audiences even today.
Saxophonist Nobuo Hara has performed and/or recorded with Quincy Jones, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como, Henry Mancini, Silvie Vartan, Nat King Cole, Yves Montand, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, and the list goes on and on.
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Bennie Wallace was born November 18, 1946 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and began playing in local clubs with the encouragement of East Ridge, Tennessee High School band director and drummer Chet Hedgecoth and professional reed player Billy Usselton, who appeared as a guest at a stage band festival and heard Wallace with the East Ridge High School Swing Band.
After studying clarinet at the University of Tennessee, Wallace settled in New York in 1971 with the encouragement of Monty Alexander, who hired him and recommended him to the American Federation of Musicians local, which virtually guaranteed his entry. He went on to play with Barry Harris, Buddy Rich, Dannie Richmond and he released his debut recording with Flip Phillips and Scott Hamilton in 1977.
Bennie has cited Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins among many major saxophone influences. He recorded on the Blue Note label in 1985 that had given him much of the key music of his formative years. The eclectic cast on the album Twilight Time reflects the mix of musical styles he encountered in the local club scene of Chattanooga.
He toured and recorded with trombonist Ray Anderson, exploring a broad repertoire not always associated with jazz, and also provided original music for Ron Shelton’s films Blaze and White Men Can’t Jump. Tenor saxophonist Bennie Wallace has released twenty albums as a leader, has recorded with George Gruntz, Eric Watson, Mose Allison and Franco Ambrosetti as well as continuing to perform, record and tour leading his own band.
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George Masso was born November 17, 1926 in Cranston, Rhode Island. Most notable for his work from 1948 to 1950 as a member of the Jimmy Dorsey band, but finding the life of a professional jazz musician financially difficult, Masso quit performing following his work with Dorsey and began teaching.
Returning to music in 1973, George recorded and/or performed with Bobby Hackett and Benny Goodman. In 1975 he became member of the World’s Greatest Jazz Band and by the late 1980s and early 1990s, he had recorded with George Shearing, Barbara Lea, Ken Peplowski, Scott hamilton, Warren Vache, Bobby Rosengarden, Woody Herman, Spike Robinson, Bob Haggart, Totti Bergh, Harry Allen and Yank Lawson.
He recorded numerous albums leading sessions on the Sackville, Nagel-Heyer, Arbors, Famous Door, World Jazz and Dreamstreet labels over the course of his career. Trombonist, bandleader, vibraphonist, and composer George Masso, who specialized in swing and Dixieland, rarely performs at 90 years old.
This weekend the Jazz Voyager is heading to Queens to soak in a dose of history when I visit a national historic and New York City landmark, the Louis Armstrong House Museum located at 34-56 107th Street, in the working class Corona neighborhood in New York 11368. The brick house was designed by architect Robert W. Johnson and built by Thomas Daly in 1910. Now a museum, the house was given to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in 1983 after Lucille’s death, and is managed by Queens College.
I will be taking the 40-minute tour through the small, impeccably preserved home and explains the significance of each room to both Louis and Lucille. They moved into this modest home in 1943 and lived for the remainder of their lives. Open to the public, I will be hearing audio clips from Louis’s homemade recordings and hear Louis practicing his trumpet, enjoying a meal, talking with his friends and enjoy the Armstrongs’ beautiful Japanese-inspired garden.
For those voyagers who will follow in my footsteps, the museum is closed on Monday, open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00am – 5:00pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. Admission is Adults: $10, Seniors (65 and older), students, and children: $7, Group rate: $6 and Children under 5 and Members: Free. For more information on the Louis Armstrong House Museum that was added to the National Registry for Historic Preservation in 1976, the number is 718-997-3670. #preserving genius #wannabewhereyouare