Sone Jazz Club: 1-24-10 Nakayamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Japan. Telephone: +81 78 221 205.5
The jazz club has been in existence since 1961 and has always been operated by the Sone family. Four sets of live music are played every night, starting at 6:50, and the action often centers around a piano trio with rotating guest vocalists. The musicians are a mix of Japanese and visiting foreigners. The club is spacious and relaxed and they serves pizza, pasta, and salads.
Herschel “Tex” Evans was born March 9, 1909 in Denton, Texas but spent much of his childhood in Kansas City, Kansas learning to play alto saxophone. It was his trombone and guitar-playing cousin, Eddie Dunham who convince him to switch to the tenor, which ultimately established his reputation.
After perfecting his craft in the famous jam sessions held in the jazz district between 12th and 18th streets in Kansas City, Evans returned to Texas in the 1920s and joined the Troy Floyd orchestra in San Antonio in 1929. He stayed with the band until it dispersed in 1932. Evans performed for a time with Lionel Hampton and Buck Clayton in Los Angeles, and in the mid-1930s returned to Kansas City to become a featured soloist in Count Basie’s big band.
For the next three years Herschel’s reputation as a tenor saxophonist was at its peak. His musical duels with fellow band member Lester Young are considered jazz classics. Count Basie’s popular “One O’Clock Jump” featured the contrasting styles of the two musicians and brought to each the praise of both critics and the general public. Evans’s greatest single success was his featured solo on Basie’s hit “Blue and Sentimental”.
Evans also made records with such notable jazz figures as Harry James, Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton. Evans has been credited with influencing fellow tenorists Buddy Tate, Illinois Jacquet, and Arnett Cobb. Although not a prolific composer, Evans wrote a number of popular works including the hits “Texas Shuffle” and “Doggin’ Around”. On February 9, 1939, at the age of 29, he died of heart disease in New York City.
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Greenwillow rose the curtain of the Alvin Theatre on March 8, 1965 with Anthony Perkins as the lead but only lasted 95 performances. Frank Loesser composed the music for the show from which Never Will I Marry rose to stand amongst the other classic jazz tunes.
The Story: A homespun fantasy that had to do with quaint superstitions and folklore of a mythical village located on the Meander River. The whimsical tale takes up the conflict of young Gideon Briggs who would rather stay home and marry his summertime love, but who fears that the curse of his family’s “call to wander solitary” will someday make him run off to sail distant seas.
Jazz History: The birth of funk can probably be traced back to 1967 when bop saxophonist Lou Donaldson hit big with Alligator Boogaloo. It was the start of a movement – and, to many, the demise of the legendary Blue Note label. Jazz labels like Blue Note, Prestige and Atlantic, who stayed alive selling R&B records, recognized the value of funk instantly. These labels, their artists and producers Bob Porter, Francis Wolf and Joel Dorn were the primary movers and shakers of the whole genre. But there were certainly others who came along and funked up their jazz, such as Creed Taylor’s CTI and Kudu output between 1970 and 1975). The whole thing probably ended in 1975, when disco and an increasing array of electronica started taking funk in a new yet still worthy direction. But the musical edge of funk was clearly getting replaced with slicker effects.
A decade later, when jazz was suffering under the post-fusion tradition-bound conservatism of Wynton Marsalis and “the new young lions,” young DJs in London spearheaded by Gilles Peterson began to rediscover these old funk records in thrift shops and spun them for the young dancers in the hippest clubs. Here, “acid jazz” was born. It still took another decade for the US to realize its own funk legacy and by the late 1990s, surviving funk musicians were finally getting paying work and hero worship bestowed upon them.
James Williams was born on March 8, 1951 in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up listening to the sounds of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and King Curtis. He started playing piano at age 13 and hometown hero Phineas Newborn was his primary influences of jazz piano. He served as organist at the Eastern Star Baptist Church for six years early in his career. He went on to matriculate through Memphis State University with fellow piano students Mulgrew Miller and Donald Brown. It was here that he began playing jazz.
After graduating he immersed himself in the city’s jazz community, performing with Frank Strozier, Jamil Nasser, George Coleman, Harold Mabern, Jr., and other local greats. In 1973 he became a faculty member at the Berklee College of Music, played with Alan Dawson’s group alongside visiting musicians such as Milt Jackson, Art Farmer and Sonny Stitt. His first album as a leader came in 1977 and the next year he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, remaining there for four years.
In the early 1980s in Boston he played with Thad Jones, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Chet Baker and Benny Carter but by 1984 James was in New York City gigging with Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and Kenny Burrell, Ray Brown, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones and Art Farmer, to name a few.
He would form his own group, the “Intensive Care Unit”, with Christian McBride, Billy Pierce and Tony Reedus. It was during this period in 1984 that he penned and recorded one of his most famous jazz compositions on the Sunnyside label is “Alter Ego”.
By 1999 he was Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University, where he remained until his death of liver cancer on July 20, 2004, age 53.
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Nathaniel Charles Gonella was born March 7, 1908 in East London, England and took up cornet as a child while at St. Mary’s Guardian School, an institution for underprivileged children. His first professional job interrupted his stint as a furrier’s apprentice when he joined Archie Pitt’s Busby Boy’s Band in 1924. He remained with the band until 1928, and it was during this period that he became acquainted with the early recordings of Louis Armstrong and the New Orleans jazz style.
Nat played and recorded with many prominent jazz musicians, including Billy Cotton, Archie Alexander, Digby Fairweather, Lew Stone, Bob Bryden and Roy Fox. His distinctive vocal style was reminiscent of his idol, Louis Armstrong, though his voice was often eclipsed by his achievements as a bandleader and trumpeter.
Gonella’s standing grew even more quickly after the formation of his own band, “The Georgians”, in 1935, taking the name from his highly popular recording of “Georgia On My Mind” in 1932. He later formed a big band and quickly became a headliner on the variety circuit.
Nat flirted briefly with bebop but returned to the variety stage until a revival of tradition jazz came in the late Fifties. His performing and recording success lasted until the advent of The Beatles in the Sixties, however he toured the northern club circuit and over the next thirty years he continued to sing occasionally with various bands until his death in Gosport on August 6, 1998 at age 90.