Audrey Morris was born in Chicago. Illinois on November 12, 1928 and developed her piano and vocal skills growing up in the Windy City. She got her start in the music business in the early to mid-’50s during which time she recorded her first two albums. Her debut album Bistro Ballads was released in 1954 followed up by her sophomore project The Voice of Audrey Morris two years later in 1956.
Opting to work her hometown Audrey’s delicate piano and forceful voice played to any intimate Chicago club or bistro crowd well into the wee hours of the morning. Her reputation grew for bucking the current taste for bawdy chanteuses and she cultivated a repertoire of obscure, understated material.
Not much was heard from Morris throughout the 1960s and ’70s, but she returned in the Eighties, this time with her own record label, Fancy Faire. She began releasing albums once more from 1984’s to 1997 that included Afterthoughts, Film Noir, Look at Me Now and Round About.
During her career she worked with bassist Johnny Pate, drummer Charles Walton, conductor, arranger and pianist Marty Paich, trumpeter Stu Williamson and guitarist Bill Pitman. Audrey has been touted as one of the great female saloon singers, ranked alongside Chris Connor and Jeri Sothern.
Pianist and vocalist Audrey Morris continued to perform well into the new millennium and has indelibly left her mark on that Windy City by the lake.
Alvin Batiste was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 7, 1932 and learned to play the clarinet. He was the first Black student to be invited to play with the New Orleans Philharmonic on Mozart’s Concerto. His childhood friend was fellow musician Ed Blackwell and in 1956, he spent time in Los Angeles, California working with Ornette Coleman.
Batiste released five albums as a leader with his debut, Musique D’Afrique Nouvell Orleans, hitting the streets in 1984. His final album, Marsalis Music Honors Series: Alvin Batiste, was a tribute produced by Branford Marsalis and also features Russell Malone and Herlin Riley.
Alvin worked as a sideman with Cannonball Adderley, Henry Butler, Billy Cobham, Marlon Jordan, the Clarinet Summit with John Carter, David Murray and Jimmy Hamilton, Mark Whitfield, Wynton Marsalis on the latter’s Crescent City Christmas Card. Though he could have risen to the top as a performer, he chose a life of teaching and mentoring.
As an educator he taught at his own jazz institute at Southern University in Baton Rouge. In addition, several well-known musicians studied under him such as Branford Marsalis, Randy Jackson of American Idol, Donald Harrison, Henry Butler, Charlie Singleton of Cameo, Ronald Myers and Woodie Douglas of Spirit.
He went on to host the radio show Jazz Sessions on WBRH, has held workshops and clinics around the globe as well as performing in concert in West Africa, Europe and the United States. Clarinetist, composer, arranger and educator Alvin Batiste, who performed in the avant-garde genre of jazz, passed away on May 6, 2007.
More Posts: clarinet
Johnny Windhurst was born John Henry Windhurst on November 5, 1926 in New York City, New York and was a self-taught trumpeter known for his solos. He considered Bix Beiderbecke, Wild Bill Davison, and Bunny Berigan among his influences and his feathery vibrato and mobility was mixed with the delicate playing style of Bobby Hackett.
At 15 he played his first public performance at Nick’s in New York City and made his professional debut during the spring of 1944 at one of Eddie Condon’s concerts at the Town Hall in New York City. At 18 years old, he was chosen to replace Bunk Johnson by Sidney Bechet to play at the Savoy Cafe in Boston, Massachusetts. Windhurst was initially recruited to the band to play the cornet and this engagement launched his career as a trumpeter.
He went on to play with Art Hodes and James P. Johnson at the Jazz at Town Hall concert in 1946. He then moved to the midwest and after a brief stint in the Chicago jazz scene he returned to the Savoy Cafe as a member of Edmond Hall’s band. Johnny eventually moved west to experience the West Coast jazz scene in California. His inability to read music had him declining gigs with Benny Goodman and Woody Herman while emphasizing his preference of informal jamming. Over the years, he played with musicians Louis Armstrong, Nappy Lamare, Walt Gifford, Edmond Hall and Eddie Condon. He led his own band, Riverboat Five, through Columbus, Ohio and Boston for several years, refraining from playing the most popular east coast venues and nightclubs to play college campuses and other small venues.
During the 1950s Windhurst worked with Ruby Braff in one of the groups known as Jazz at Storyville, performed at Condon’s club and performed with George Wettling, Jack Teagarden, Barbara Lea and took a stage role with actor Conrad Janis in an off-broadway musical titled, Joy Ride. He only made one recording with his swing quartet, the John Windhurst Quartet that included Buell Neidlinger as a sideman, titled Jazz at Columbus Avenue.
Throughout the 1960s and 70’s he opted to perform primarily in obscure venues in out-of-the-way corners of the USA. Despite his range of talent and success, Windhurst was seemingly content to hide from the big-time spotlight. He eventually moved upstate to Poughkeepsie with his mother, where he finished his career in a dixieland band at Frivolous Sal’s Last Chance Saloon. Several years later, after receiving an invitation to play the Manassas jazz festival in 1981, Windhurst passed away of a heart attack on October 2, 1981 in Dutchess County, New York.
More Posts: trumpet
Henry Grimes was born November 3, 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and took up the violin at the age of 12, then began playing tuba, English horn, percussion, and finally the double bass in high school. He went on to study at Juilliard, establishing a reputation as a versatile bassist by the mid-1950s.
At a time when bassist Charles Mingus was experimenting with a second bass player in his band, Grimes was the person he selected for the job. At twenty-two he was captured on film in the Bert Stern documentary of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival’s Jazz on a Summer’s Day and as word spread among the musicians about his extraordinary playing, he ended up playing with six different groups in the festival that weekend: those of Benny Goodman, Lee Konitz, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins, and Tony Scott.
Gradually growing interested in the burgeoning free jazz movement, Henry performed with most of the music’s important names, including Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, and Albert Ayler. He released one album, The Call, as a trio leader on the ESP-Disk label in 1965 with clarinetist Perry Robinson and drummer Tom Price. By the late 1960s, he moved to California, his career came to a halt and after more than a decade of activity and performance, notably as a leading bassist in free jazz, completely disappeared from the music scene by 1970 and was often presumed dead.it was commonly assumed Grimes had died, having been listed as such in several jazz reference works.
Fortunately Henry was discovered him in 2002 alive but nearly destitute by Marshall Marrotte, a social worker and jazz fan. He was without a bass to play, renting a tiny apartment in Los Angeles, California, writing poetry and doing odd jobs to support himself. He had fallen so out of touch with the jazz world that he was unaware Albert Ayler had died in 1970.
Since his return in 2003 to a hero’s welcome at the free jazz Vision Festival, he has been performing at festivals, teaching lessons and workshops for bassists. William Parker donated a bass nicknamed “Olive Oil” for its distinctive greenish color and with David Gage’s help had it shipped from New York to Los Angeles, and others assisted with travel expenses and arranging performances.
Grimes has made up for lost time and over the course of his career, old and new, he has recorded over 90 sessions and performed with Anita O’Day, Mose Allison, Roy Burns, Andrew Cyrille, Paul Dunmall – Profound Sound Trio, , Walt Dickerson, Shafi Hadi, Roy Haynes, Rolf Kühn, Carmen Leggio, William Parker, Marc Ribot, Pharoah Sanders, Shirley Scott, Marilyn Crispell, Ted Curson, Archie Shepp, Billy Taylor, Cecil Taylor, Marshall Allen, Fred Anderson, Lennie Tristano, McCoy Tyner, Rashied Ali, Bill Dixon, Dave Douglas, Andrew Lamb, Joe Lovano, Roscoe Mitchell, William Parker, High Priest, Wadada Leo Smith, Cecil Taylor John Tchicai, and numerous others.
In the past few years, Grimes has also held a number of residencies and offered workshops and master classes at City College of New York, Berklee College of Music, Hamilton College, New England Conservatory, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Gloucestershire at Cheltenham, Humber College, and more. He has released or played on a dozen new recordings, made his professional debut on a second instrument, the violin, at Cecil Taylor’s side at Lincoln Center at the age of 70, and has been creating illustrations to accompany his new recordings and publications. He has received many honors in recent years, including four Meet the Composer grants and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Arts for Art / Vision Festival.
Bassist, violinist, composer and poet Henry Grimes is now a resident of New York City and has a busy schedule of performances, clinics, and international tours.
Rudolph “Rudy” Van Gelder was born on November 2, 1924 in Jersey City, New Jersey. His interest in microphones and electronics can be traced to a youthful enthusiasm for amateur radio. Named for his uncle who had been the drummer in Ted Lewis’s band in the mid-1930s, he took trumpet lessons and trained as an optometrist at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, in Philadelphia, thinking he could not earn a living as a recording engineer.
From 1943, after graduating, Van Gelder had an optometry practice in Teaneck, New Jersey, and moonlighted recording local musicians in the evenings who wanted 78-rpm recordings of their work. From 1946, Van Gelder recorded in his parents’ house in Hackensack, New Jersey, in which a control room was built adjacent to the living room, which served as the musicians’ performing area. The dry acoustics of this working space were partly responsible for Van Gelder’s inimitable recording aesthetic.
Interested in improving the quality of the playback equipment he acquired everything that could play back audio: speakers, turntables and amplifiers. One of Rudy’s friends, baritone saxophonist Gil Mellé, introduced him to Alfred Lion, a producer for Blue Note Records, in 1953. Within a few years he was in demand by many other independent labels based around New York City, such as Bob Weinstock, owner of Prestige Records. To accommodate each label – Blue Note, Prestige, Savoy, Impulse, Verve he assigned them to different days as Lion was more stringent with the sound of original music, Weinstock had essentially blowing sessions for some of the best musicians in jazz history.He also engineered and mastered for the classical label Vox Records in the Fifties.
Van Gelder worked during the day as an optometrist until the summer of 1959, when he moved his operations to a larger studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey and became a full-time recording engineer. The new studio’s design was inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright had high ceilings and fine acoustics with “no food or drink and do not touch microphones” policy as he himself always wore gloves when handling equipment.
By 1967 the labels were beginning to utilize other engineers more regularly but Rudy remained active engineering nearly all of Creed Taylor’s CTI Records releases, a series of proto-smooth jazz albums that were financially successful, but not always well received by critics. He was not without his detractors. Despite his prominence in the industry, like Lion who didn’t care for the overuse of reverb, and Charles Mingus refused to work with him because he change the sound of his bass. He remastered the analog Blue Note recordings into 24-bit digital recordings in its RVG Edition series and also remasters of some of the Prestige albums, and was happy to see the LP go by the wayside because it was hard for him to get the sound the way he thought it should be.
He received awards and honors being named a fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), received the society’s most prestigious award, the AES Gold Medal, named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, received the Grammy Trustees Award, and Thelonious Monk composed and recorded a tribute to Van Gelder titled Hackensack.
Producer and recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder, who specialized in jazz and regarded as the most important recording engineer of jazz by some observers, passed away at home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on August 25, 2016. Among the several thousand jazz sessions he recorded are the acknowledged classics John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Miles Davis’s Walkin’, Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage, Sonny Rollins’s Saxophone Colossus and Horace Silver’s Song for My Father.