Arvin Charles Garrison was born on August 17, 1922 in Toledo, Ohio and taught himself ukulele at age nine and played guitar for dances and local functions from age twelve.
In 1941 Arv was leading his own band at a hotel in Albany, New York, then with Don Seat put together a trio that played on both the East and West coasts of the United States until 1948. After 1946 it was called the Vivien Garry Trio, after his wife and bassist.
Garrison recorded on Dial Records with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and was actively at the forefront of the early New York City bebop scene in the 1940s. Jazz critic Leonard Feather interviewed him extensively about his time spent playing with Parker. In the 1950s he returned to his hometown of Toledo and played locally.
Some of his recordings can be heard on a few anthologies, such as, the Onyx 1974 release Central Avenue Breakdown, Vol. 1 shared with Teddy Edwards and Dodo Marmarosa and includes 6 of the 8 tracks that Arv and wife Vivien Garry’s quartet recorded for Sarco Records in 1945; Swing To Bop Guitar: Guitars In Flight 1939-1947 on the Hep label that includes Arv’s famous Five Guitars In Flight recorded for Black & White Records in 1946 with Earle Spencer’s Orchestra; and The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions on Mosaic Records.
Guitarist Arv Garrison passed away on July 30, 1960 from drowning during an epileptic seizure.
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Malcolm Earl Waldron was born on August 16, 1925 in New York City to West Indian immigrants, his father was a mechanical engineer., however they moved out of the city to Jamaica, Long Island when he was four. His parents discouraged his initial interest in jazz, but he was able to maintain it by listening to swing on the radio. He started classical piano lessons around age seven but by 16 he became inspired to play jazz on tenor saxophone after hearing Coleman Hawkins’ 1939 recording of Body and Soul, but unable to afford a tenor he settle for an alto saxophone. He played alto for local bands that performed for dances, bar mitzvahs, Spanish weddings, frequently taking over the pianist’s role when other musicians took their solos.
In 1943 Waldron being called up by the Army was based at West Point, allowing him to listen to the greats of jazz in clubs on 52nd Street. After two years of service he returned as a student to Queens College where he studied under composer Karol Rathaus, making his final decision to switch from saxophone to piano. After college he worked for a short time in rhythm and blues bands, including with Big Nick Nicholas.
In 1950 Mal went on to work with Ike Quebec in New York, made his recording debut with the saxophonist in 1952 and played at Café Society Downtown on Mondays for six or seven months. Over the next couple of years he worked frequently with Charles Mingus, recording on several Mingus albums, including Pithecanthropus Erectus, a key development in the movement towards freer collective improvisation in jazz. He would go on to work with Lucky Millinder and Lucky Thompson, form his own band Idrees Sulieman, Gigi Gryce, Julian Euell, and Arthur Edgehill. This group recorded Waldron’s debut release as a leader, Mal-1, in 1956.
Waldron was Billie Holiday’s regular accompanist from 1957 until her death in 1959, and Introduced by Jackie McLean, he became the house pianist for Prestige Records. Other leaders he worked under at Prestige included Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, John Coltrane and Phil Woods. His most famous, Soul Eyes, written for Coltrane, became a widely recorded jazz standard. A prolific composer he has estimated composing more than 400 pieces of music during his time with Prestige.
He went on to perform with Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, Eric Dolphy and Booker Little, and wrote for is own band, scores for modern ballet, and film scores with his score for The Cool World becoming one of the first attempts to stress improvisation rather than composition in a jazz-based film score. In 1963 Waldron having a major breakdown caused by a heroin overdose causing him to lose the ability to remember his name or play the piano, requiring shock treatments and a spinal tap to bring him back. He had to relearn his skills, in part by listening to his own records. Recovery was a slow process, taking over two years till all his faculties fully returned.
From the mid-1960s on, Waldron lived in Paris, Rome, Bologna and Cologne, before moving permanently to Munich. He scored full-length and short films, for television and Amiri Baraka’s theater production The Slave & Dutchman, and played with Ben Webster and Kenny Clarke. He toured and recorded throughout Europe and Japan, stopping in the U.S. playing solo piano but also with Joe Henderson, Herbie Lewis, Freddie Waits, Charlie Rouse, Calvin Hill and Horacee Arnold and Cameron Brown.
The ‘90s saw Mal recording several albums with vocalist Jeanne Lee. Two of his final recordings were duets with saxophonists David Murray and Archie Shepp. Diagnosed with cancer in 2002 he continued to perform until his death on December 2nd of that year in a hospital in Brussels, due to complications resulting from the cancer. He was 77.
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Bruz Freeman was born Eldridge Freeman on August 11, 1921 in Chicago, Illinois. Also known as “Buzz” Freeman with his brothers, guitarist George Freeman and tenor saxophonist Von Freeman, he played for several years in the house band at the Pershing Hotel.
In 1950, he was a member of John Young’s trio with bassist LeRoy Jackson and recorded with Young’s orchestra backing vocalist Lurlean Hunter.
By the mid-1950s, Bruz became a member of the Hampton Hawes Quartet, with Red Mitchell and Jim Hall, and with line-ups led by Herb Geller. In 1950, with his brothers George and Von, LeRoy Jackson, and Chris Anderson, he played with Charlie Parker shortly before his death. This jam session was recorded at Bird’s apartment and was later released in 1960 by Savoy Records.
He went on to record with Clora Bryant in the late Fifties and John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Bob Thiele in the Sixties. Fro 1977-1978 he joined a short-lived band based in California led by Kenny Mann and with Britt Woodman on trombone. Drummer Bruz Freeman never recorded as a leader and passed away on November 21, 2005 at age 84 in Boulder City, Nevada.
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Richard “Richie” Kamuca was born on July 23, 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His early playing, in what is generally considered the Lester Young style, was done on tour with the big bands of Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, where he became a member of the later line-ups of Herman’s Four Brothers saxophone section with Al Cohn and Bill Perkins.
Like many players associated with West Coast jazz, he grew up in the East before moving West around the time that bebop changed the prevailing style of jazz. Kamuca stayed on the West Coast, playing with the smaller groups of Chet Baker, Maynard Ferguson, Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Bill Holman, Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino and others. He was one of the Lighthouse All-Stars, and recorded with Perkins, Art Pepper, Jimmy Rowles, Cy Touff, Jimmy Giuffre, Gary McFarland, The Modern Jazz Quartet and many others, as well as leading recording sessions in his own right.
Kamuca was a member of the group Shelly Manne and His Men from 1959 through 1962, when he returned East and settled in New York City. Here he worked with Gerry Mulligan, Gary McFarland, and Roy Eldridge before returning to the West Coast in 1972, where he recorded in the studios and performed with local groups.
Less well known to the general public than other saxophonists, Richie Kamuca passed away of cancer, in Los Angeles, California on July 22, 1977 just before his 47th birthday.
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Edward Lee Morgan was born on July 10, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of Otto Ricardo and Nettie Beatrice Morgan’s four children. Originally interested in the vibraphone, he soon showed a growing enthusiasm for the trumpet and at thirteen his sister gave him his first trumpet, but he also knew how to play the alto saxophone. His primary stylistic influence was Clifford Brown, with whom he took a few lessons as a teenager.
He joined the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band at 18, and remained for a year and a half, until Dizzy to disband the unit in 1958. Lee began recording for Blue Note Records in 1956, eventually recording 25 albums as a leader for the label, with more than 250 musicians. He also recorded on the Vee-Jay label and one album for Riverside Records on its short-lived Jazzland subsidiary.
He was a featured sideman on several early Hank Mobley records, as well as on John Coltrane’s Blue Train, joining Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1958 further developed his talent as a soloist and composer. When Benny Golson left the Jazz Messengers, Morgan persuaded Blakey to hire tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter to fill the chair. This version of the Jazz Messengers, including pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merritt, recorded the classic The Freedom Rider album. However, in 1961 the drug problems of Morgan and Timmons forced them to leave the band.
Returning to New York City two years later he recorded The Sidewinder which became his greatest commercial success and was the background theme for Chrysler television commercials during the 1963 World Series. Due to the crossover success of the album’s boogaloo beat, Morgan repeated the formula several times with compositions such as Cornbread and Yes I Can, No You Can’t.
He would go on to record a string of more than twenty albums as a leader and perform and record as a sideman with Shorter, Grachan Moncur III, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Smith, Elvin Jones, Jack Wilson, Reuben Wilson, Larry Young, Clifford Jordan, Andrew Hill, as well as on several albums with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Together with John Gilmore, this lineup was filmed by the BBC for seminal jazz television program Jazz 625.
He became more politically involved in the last two years of his life, becoming one of the leaders of the Jazz and People’s Movement. The group demonstrated during the taping of talk and variety shows during 1970-71 to protest the lack of jazz artists as guest performers and members of the programs’ bands. His working band during those last years featured reed players Billy Harper or Bennie Maupin, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Jymie Merritt and drummers Mickey Roker or Freddie Waits and were featured on the three-disc, Live at the Lighthouse, recorded during a two-week engagement at the Hermosa Beach, California club in 1970.
Hard bop trumpeter and composer Lee Morgan passed away in the early hours of February 19, 1972 at Slug’s Saloon in the East Village of New York City. Following an altercation between sets, Morgan’s common-law wife Helen More shot him and though not immediately fatal, he bled to death, due to a heavy snowfall and the ambulance’s lengthy arrival time. He was 33 years old.
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