Papa Bue Jensen was born Arne Bue Jensen on May 8, 1930 in Copenhagen, Denmark, At an early age, he became fascinated with jazz, prompted by records from his brother with Harry James, Arte Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Bert Ambrose, Bunk John and George Lewis in the stack.
After World War II, Jensen became a sailor for a few years, visiting ports all around the world, where he had an opportunity to listen to enjoy their music venues. It was around this time that he started to play jazz. He borrowed money to by a slide trombone, was taught the seven basic positions of the slide by a Royal Danish Orchestra musician, and the rest he taught himself. Soon he was playing with other young jazz musicians, performing in clubs and bars around Copenhagen.
He played in the Royal Jazzman band, that later became the Bohana Jazz Band, Henrik Johansen’s Jazz Band and recorded as a sideman with the Saint Peter Street Stompers in the 1950s. Papa Bue also worked with the Bonanza Jazz Band, Chris Barber, Adrian Bentzon and Johansen. During this period of his career he was immersed in the Nyhavn music scene jamming with other young jazz musicians. In 1956 he founded and led the New Orleans Jazz Band, and was given the nickname Papa Bue as he was the on father in the group.
In late 1957, after an article by Shel Silverstein was published in which he referred to them as the Danish Vikings, Jensen renamed the ensemble the Viking Jazz Band. They released their first album in 1958 and their sophomore project Schlafe Mein Prinzchen released in 1960, sold over one million copies, garnering them gold status.
Though bebop was in at the time he remained in the Dixieland style, but was influenced by early swing and is considered one of the most significant proponents of his genre. The group remained active into the 1990s, recording and/or performing with George Lewis, Champion Jack Dupree, Art Hodes, Wild Bill Davison, Wingy Manone, Edmond Hall, Albert Nicholas, Earl Hines, Stuff Smith and Ben Webster.
Papa Bue’s Viking Jazz Band recorded Bent Fabricius-Bjerre’s theme music for the Olsen Gang series, and was awarded the Golden Keys To The City in 1969 after performing at the 1969 New Orleans Jazz Festival. In 1989 he was awarded the Ben Webster Prize of Honor.
Trombonist Papa Bue Jensen, who released a large number of albums on Storyville, timeless and Music Mecca record labels though few are in print, passed away on November 2, 2011, at the age of 81.
More Posts: trombone
Herbie Steward was born Herbert Bickford Steward on May 7, 1926 in Los Angeles, California. He was widely known for being one of the tenor saxophones in the Four Brothers, alongside Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Serge Chaloff in Woody Herman’s Second Herd.
Having a nice tone, Steward interacted well and was an above-average soloist. He also played alto saxophone, soprano saxophone and clarinet and was active from the 1940s to the Sixties and played in the swing and big band jazz genres. During his active years he recorded or performed with Earle Spencer, Smith Dobson, Tecumseh “Tee” Carson, Eddie Duran, John Mosher, Eddie Moore, Gene DiNovi, Sir Charles Thompson, David Young, Yukio Kimura, Kohnosuke Saijoh, Al Cohn, Stan Kenton, Chaloff and Sims.
Tenor saxophonist Herbie Steward, who has only a few albums as a leader in print at present, passed away on August 9, 2003 in Clearlake, California.
More Posts: saxophone
Isla Eckinger was born on May 6, 1939 in Dornach, Switzerland and played cello as a child, moving to the trombone during his teenage years. After studying trombone at the Conservatory in Basel, he taught himself to play the bass.
As a professional musician Isla made his debut playing with Oscar and Miriam Klein. In the 1960s, he accompanied on tour with Ben Webster, Buck Clayton, Don Byas and Johnny Griffin.
After a move to Munich, Eckinger began working with Mal Waldron, Joe Haider and Philly Joe Jones. From 1970 to 1976 he became an educator, teaching at the Swiss Jazz School while working with Haider, Peter Giger and Heinz Bigler in Group Four for Jazz.
With a new quartet with Waldron, Steve Lacy and Manfred Schoof, Eckinger toured Japan in 1975, and Italy with Chet Baker the following year. By the end of the 1970s he belonged to Wolfgang Engstfeld’s quartet, then worked with Klaus Weiss, Fritz Pauer and also with Dizzy Gillespie.
Mid-1980 saw Isla in Los Angeles, California recording with Chuck Manning. Currently bassist Isla Eckinger plays with Roman Schwaller and Jimmy Cobb as well as with Charly Antolini, Andy Scherrer and Paul Haag.
More Posts: bass
Joyce Collins was born on May 5, 1930 in Battle Mountain, Nevada. She began playing piano professionally at the age of 15 while still attending Reno High School. While studying music and teaching at San Francisco State College she played in groups and solo at various jazz clubs, eventually touring with the Frankie Carle band.
By the late 1950s, Collins settled in Los Angeles, California, working there Reno and in Las Vegas she became the first woman to conduct one of the resort’s show bands. During this period she worked in film and television studios, spending 10 years in the band on the Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart shows.
In 1975, she recorded with Bill Henderson garner Grammy nominations for their Street Of Dreams and Tribute To Johnny Mercer albums. Joyce continued to work in films, coached the Bridges brothers for their roles in The Fabulous Baker Boys. She appeared twice on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz radio show.
She performed mostly in solo, duo and trio work but occasionally sat in with big bands, such as that led by Bill Berry. She has recorded with Paul Horn and under her own name releasing her debut album in 1961, followed by her sophomore release Moment To Moment, after a long gap. She was an accomplished composer, arranger and singer with a delicate understanding of the lyricist’s intentions.
As an educator, in 1975 she taught jazz piano at the Dick Grove Music School. She wrote and arranged extensively, including a program, performed live and on radio, tracing the involvement of women in jazz as composers and lyricists. Pianist, singer and educator Joyce Collins passed away on January 3, 2010.
Sonny Payne was born on May 4, 1926 in New York City. His father was Wild Bill Davis’ drummer Chris Columbus. After early study with Vic Berton, in 1944 he started playing professionally around New York with the Dud and Paul Bascomb band, Hot Lips Page, Earl Bostic, Tiny Grimes and Lucille Dixon through the decade.
From 1950 to 1953, Payne played with Erskine Hawkins’ big band and led his own band for two years, but in late 1954 he made his most significant move, joining Count Basie’s band for more than ten years of constant touring and recording. He recorded Counting Five In Sweden with Joe Newman in 1958 on the Metronome label..
Leaving Basie in 1965, he again led his own trio and toured with Illinois Jacquet in 1976. He went Frank Sinatra’s personal drummer for all of the singer’s appearances with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1965 and 1966, and he later rejoined Basie as the regular drummer from 1973–1974. Most of the rest of his career, however, was spent in the Harry James band, which he joined in 1966, and with whom he was working when he passed away of pneumonia at the age of 52 on January 29, 1979 in Los Angeles, California. Harry James paid all of his medical bills and subsequent funeral costs.
More Posts: drums