Buster Smith was born Henry Smith on August 24, 1904 Alsdorf, Texas, the third boy of five and earned the name “Buster” from his parents as he was an overweight baby when his mother gave birth. His early musical influences were his mother, and his father, who played guitar. At the age of four years, Buster and his brother Boston, a pianist, were playing organ, he played the keys and his brother stepped on the pedals. Soon thereafter, believing it would lead to a life of sin, his grandfather gave away the organ.
In 1919, Smith picked cotton for a week to earn himself the money to buy a $3.50 clarinet. He went on to learn to play several instruments by the time he was eighteen years old. Moving to Dallas in 1922, he joined the Voodie White Trio, playing alto saxophone and clarinet. The following year he began his professional career as an alto saxophonist with the medicine shows, though he had to play very loudly to draw in more customers. This experience defined his musical style, becoming known for being loud.
This period led to Oran “Hot Lips” Page inviting Smith to join his group, the Oklahoma City Blue Devils, in 1925. Over the next few years Buster wrote much of the group’s music, learning from banjo player Johnny Clark, writing lyrics with co-workers from the bank that he worked in.
As a Blue Devils he worked alongside Walter Page, Oran Page, Lester Young, Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing, and Emir “Bucket” Coleman. They toured the Kansas City area and the Midwest, playing jazz for a year, bringing all of its members into prominence. Basie and Page both left the group; and shortly afterwards so did Smith. He and Basie formed the Buster Smith-Count Basie Band of Rhythm, where the two innovated a louder style of jazz. Buster’s contribution to the unique sound was by using a tenor saxophone reed in his alto saxophone to achieve a louder, “fatter” sound. Young opted for a heavier reed, using a baritone saxophone reed on his tenor saxophone. This sound was later labelled the Texas Sax Sound.
Smith gained influence in the Texan music community and industry. He mentored saxophonist Charlie Parker during the 1930s, developing a father-son relationship. He played with a host of musicians including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Earl Hines but in 1941 he returned to Dallas and ceased touring but remained active in the local music scene. In the years that followed he wrote for jazz and blues bands, played often, and known as Professor Smith, taught many young Texan musicians, including Aaron “T-Bone” Walker and Red Garland among others. He also performed session work with Pete Johnson’s Boogie-Woogie Boys, Eddie Durham, Leo “Snub” Mosley, Bon and His Buddies, and the Don Redman Orchestra.
In the 1960s, Smith was involved in auto accident, his injuries causing him to give up the saxophone. Not to be dissuaded from performing he took up the bass guitar, led a dance band and played into the mid-Eighties with the Legendary Revelations. Alto saxophonist Buster Smith, who recorded only one album as a leader in 1959, passed away on August 10, 1991 of a heart attack in Dallas, Texas.
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Martial Solal was born on August 23, 1927 in Algiers, French Algeria to an opera singer and piano teacher. He began learning the piano from the age of six. After settling in Paris in 1950, he soon began working with leading musicians including Django Reinhardt and expatriates from the United States like Sidney Bechet and Don Byas. He formed a quartet and also occasionally leading a big band in the late that same year.
Martial began his recording career as a leader in 1953 and began composing film music, eventually providing over twenty scores. By 1963 he appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island but his Newport ’63 is a studio album recreating the live date. His regular trio featured bassist Guy Pedersen and drummer Daniel Humair and from 1968 he regularly performed and recorded with Lee Konitz in the U. S. and Europe.
Throughout his career Solal has performed solo and during 1993-94 he gave thirty solo concerts for French Radio, releasing a 2-CD set Improvise Pour Musique France on the JMS Records label. Solal has also written a piano method book titled Jazz Works.
In addition, pianist Martial has recorded three-dozen albums and worked with Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette Francois Moutin, Dave Douglas, Gary Peacock, Peter Erskine, Paul Motian, Marc Johnson, Toots Thielemans, John Scofield, Hampton Hawes, Daniel Humair, Niels Pederson, Joachim Kuhn, Hans Koller and Attila Zoller, among others.
In recent years, Martial Solal, who believes music is a language and each performance is a conversation between the participants, has continued to perform and record with his trio.
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Bumps Myers was born Hubert Maxwell Myers on August 22, 1912 in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Influenced by Coleman Hawkins he played the tenor saxophone but also the alto and baritone. Growing up in California he began his musical career at the age of 17 in the Los Angeles area, playing with Curtis Mosby and His Dixieland Blue Blowers,
By 1927 he had recorded for the first time and two years later was playing in Seattle, Washington with Earl Whaley. The mid-1930s saw him with Buck Clayton and Teddy Weatherford, with whom he went on tour. From 1934 to 1936 he lived in Shanghai, China where he worked in Canidrome with Weatherford’s band and Buck Clayton. After returning to the United States in 1937 he played with Lionel Hampton and Les Hite .
The early Forties had Bumps working with the short-lived band of Lee and Lester Young. In 1942 and again in 1945 he worked at Jimmie Lunceford and 1943-48 in Benny Carter’s big band. Mid-1940s he performed several times with Jazz at the Philharmonic and in 1945 he played with Sid Catlett on.
1947 saw him playing with Benny Goodman and recording the hit Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad). Under his own name he released Bumps Myers & His Frantic Five in 1949 on the Blu, Selective and RPM labels.
In the 1950s, Myers worked as a studio musician, played with Red Callender, and Harry Belafonte in 1958 . After touring with Horace Henderson from 1961-62, Myers retired from music because of issues with his health.
In the field of swing and jazz, he was involved from 1927 to 1960 on some 90 recording sessions with Irving Ashby, Kay Starr, Lee Richardson, Ernestine Anderson, Freddie Slack, Mel Powell, Dan Grissom, Fletcher Henderson, Russell Jacquet, Louis Bellson and Maxwell Davis, Not limiting himself to jazz he also played on a number of rhythm and blues recordings by T-Bone Walker, George Vann, Amos Milburn, Jimmy Witherspoon, Helen Humes, Percy Mayfield, Tony Allen and B. B. King.
Swing saxophonist Bumps Myers, who never gained the notoriety or popularity of his contemporaries, due possibly to working mainly in the Los Angeles music scene, passed away on April 9, 1968 in Los Angeles, California.
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Count Basie was born William James Basie on August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, New Jersey. His father played mellophone, his mother piano and it was she who taught him to play the piano. She paid 25 cents for each piano lesson for him. Not much of a student in school, he finished junior high school before dropping out and spending much of his time at the Palace Theater learning to operate lights for vaudeville and to improvise accompaniment for acts and silent films at the hometown Palace Theater. Though a natural at the piano, he preferred drums but discouraged by the obvious talents of drummer Sonny Greer, who also lived in Red Bank, at age fifteen he switched to piano exclusively. By 16 years old, he increasingly played jazz piano at parties, resorts and other venues.
In 1924, Count went to Harlem, New York City where he met most of the major players including Willie “The Lion” Smith and James P. Johnson. His performing career expanded as he began touring with groups to the major jazz cities of Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City on the Keith and TOBA vaudeville circuits. He met Fats Waller at Leroy’s cutting contest in Harlem who would teach him to play the organ and Smith gave him tips on piano technique and helped him book rent parties when times were lean. In 1929 he joined Bennie Moten’s band in Kansas City, and played with them until Moten’s death in 1935. Their tune The Moten Swing was an invaluable contribution to the development of swing.
At this point in his career he formed the Count Basie Orchestra and in 1936 they were in Chicago, Illinois for a long engagement and their first recording. Late one night they were improvising and came up with their signature tune One O’Clock Jump that stood for many years until their version of April In Paris.
He would go on to record for producer John Hammond on the Vocalion label with presiding members of the band being Ben Webster, Lester Young and Herschel Evans , Freddie Green, Jo Jones, Walter Page, Earle Warren, Buck Clayton and Harry Edison, Benny Morton and Dickie Wells.
He led the group for nearly 50 years, creating innovations like the use of two “split” tenor saxophones, emphasizing the rhythm section, riffing with a big band, using arrangers to broaden their sound, and others. Many musicians came to prominence under his direction, including Lester Young, Herschel Evans, Buck Clayton, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Paul Campbell, Tommy Turrentine, Johnny Letman, Idrees Sulieman, Joe Newman, Jimmy Wilkins, Benny Powell, Paul Quinichette and Floyd “Candy” Johnson, Marshal Royal, Ernie Wilkins and Charlie Fowlkes, as well as singers Jimmy Rushing, Joe Williams as well as recording with Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bing Crosby, and Sarah Vaughan.
He has won eight Grammy awards, had four recordings inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame, and has been inducted into the Long Island Hall of Fame, the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, Down BEat Jazz Hall Of Fame, has been awarded NEA Jazz Master and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, among other awards. Pianist, organist, bandleader and composer Count Basie passed away pancreatic cancer in Hollywood, Florida on April 26, 1984.
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Frank Capp was born Francis Cappuccio on August 20, 1931 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He began playing with Stan Kenton in 1951, remaining for some time. Later he joined Neal Hefti’s group and often accompanied Peggy Lee on some of her road dates.
Capp subsequently came to Los Angeles, California where he joined Billy May. He performed and recorded with Chet Baker, Herbie Harper Quintet, Joe Pass, André Previn, J. J. Johnson, Ben Webster, Michael Nesmith, Anita O’Day, Frank Sinatra and Bud Shank among others.
Not limited to jazz he also played on numerous rock and roll sessions and is considered to be a member of The Wrecking Crew. This quintessential first-call group of musicians became Phil Spector’s de facto house band. Known as the Wall Of Sound Orchestra. They also played behind such 60s & 70s groups as Jan and Dean, Sonny & Cher, The Mamas & The Papas, Nancy Sinatra, The Byrds, The Monkees, Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys.
In 1975 together with Nat Pierce he founded the Capp/Pierce Juggernaut Band. Among the personnel have been Bill Berry, Bobby Shew, Marshal Royal, Blue Mitchell, Herb Ellis, Chuck Berghofer and Richie Kamuca, while the singers have been Ernie Andrews, Joe Williams, Ernestine Anderson and Nancy Wilson. Still led by drummer Frank Capp at age 84, the Juggernaut has proved sufficiently well founded to survive Pierce’s death in 1992.
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