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RAY SIMS

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Ray C. Sims was born on January 18, 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, the older brother of Zoot Sims. He learned to play the trombone and coming of age he was a part of the Swing Era in jazz.

He first played with Jerry Wald, then with Bobby Sherwood, and in 1947 was with Benny Goodman and recorded How High The Moon on Capitol Records. From 1949 to 1958 he was a trombone soloist and vocalist in the Les Brown Orchestra before joining Harry James.

In 1955 he recorded with Les Brown on trombone and vocals, Bill Johnson, Benny Goodman, Harry James and Frank Sinatra, among others It’s A Lonesome Old Town. Ray was primarily a lead trombone or session player and over the course of his career played and recorded with Earle Spencer, Lyle Griffin, Anita O’Day, Dave Pell, Billy Eckstine, The Four Freshmen, Ray Anthony, Peggy Lee, Bill Holman, Jackie and Roy, Lena Horne, Georgia Carr, Red Norvo, John Towner Williams, Jerry Gray, Maxwell Davis, Ernie Andrews, Frank Capp and Corky Corcoran.  

Trombonist and vocalist Ray Sims, who never led a session, passed away in 2000.


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QUENTIN JACKSON

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Quentin “Butter” Jackson was born January 13, 1909 in Springfield, Ohio. His brother-in-law Claude Jones, who played with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers taught him to play the trombone. During the Thirties he played with Zack White, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and the Don Redman Orchestra.

The Forties saw Butter, as he was affectionately known, working with Cab Calloway and then Lucky Millinder, taking occasional solos with those groups, and in the early days was a ballad singer. In 1949 he became a fixture in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, becoming his best wa-wa trombonist utilizing the plunger mute. This relationship, that included recordings, lasted until 1960, both as a soloist and in the ensembles.

Jackson went on to tour of Europe and recorded with Quincy Jones, then performed and recorded with Count Basie for two years and recorded notable work with Charles Mingus in 1962-63, followed by a return to Ellington and worked with the big bands of Louie Bellson and Gerald Wilson. By the 1970s he was working with the Mel Lewis/Thad Jones Orchestra until near the end of his life.

A consummate sideman he recorded with Dorothy Ashby, Kenny Burrell, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Hodges, Leon Thomas, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, Milt Jackson, Herbie Mann, Freddie McCoy, Wes Montgomery, Shirley Scott, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry, Billy Strayhorn, Randy Weston and Dinah Washington, who did a version of Bessie Smith’s Trombone Cholly on her album Dinah Sings Bessie Smith, enlisting Jackson on the horn, under the title “Trombone Butter”.

Trombonist Quentin Jackson, whose only session as a leader resulted in four titles in 1959 that were reissued by Swing, passed away on October 2, 1976 in New York City.

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kenny-davern

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Kenny Davern was born John Kenneth Davern on January 7, 1935 in Huntington, Long Island, New York of Austrian-Irish ancestry. After hearing Pee Wee Russell the first time, he was convinced that he wanted to be a jazz musician and at the age of 16 he joined the musician’s union, first as a baritone saxophone player. In 1954 he joined Jack Teagarden’s band, and after only a few days with the band he made his first jazz recordings.

He would later work with bands led by Phil Napoleon and Pee Wee Erwin before joining the Dukes of Dixieland in 1962. The late 1960s found him free-lancing with, among others, Red Allen, Ralph Sutton, Yank Lawson and his lifelong friend Dick Wellstood.

Davern had taken up the soprano saxophone, and when a spontaneous coupling with fellow reedman Bob Wilber at Dick Gibson’s Colorado Jazz Party turned out be a huge success, one of the most important jazz groups of the 1970s, Soprano Summit, was born. The two co-led the group switching between the clarinet and various saxophones, and over the next five years Soprano Summit enjoyed a very successful string of record dates and concerts. When the group disbanded in 1979, he devoted himself to solely playing clarinet, preferring trio formats with piano and drums.

He revived his collaboration with Bob Wilber in 1991 and the new group was called Summit Reunion. Leading quartets since the 1990s, Kenny preferred the guitar to the piano in his rhythm section, employing guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden and James Chirillo. He appeared numerous times at the Colorado Springs Invitational Jazz Party; in 1997 he was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame at Rutgers University, and in 2001 he received an honorary doctorate of music at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York.

Mainly playing in traditional jazz and swing settings, he ventured into the free-jazz genre collaborating in 1978 with avant-garde players Steve Lacy, Steve Swallow and Paul Motian that produced the album titled Unexpected. He also held an ardour and knowledge of classical music. Clarinetist Kenny Davern passed away of a heart attack at his Sandia Park, New Mexico home on December 12, 2006.


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jack-brokensha

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Jack” Brokensha was born John Joseph Brokensha on January 5, 1926 in Nailsworth, South Australia. He studied percussion under his father, and played xylophone in vaudeville shows and on radio. He played with the Australian Symphony Orchestra during the war years from 1942–44, and then joined a band in the Air Force from 1944 to 1946.

Forming his own group, Jack began performing in Melbourne in 1947, moving around Australia and playing in Sydney from 1949 to mid–50, Brisbane later in 1950 and Adelaide in 1951. By 1953 he had moved to Windsor, Ontario, Canada with Australian pianist Bryce Rohde and together they formed the Australian Jazz Quartet/Quintet.  They enlisted fellow Australian bassoonist/saxophonist Errol Buddle and American saxophonist/flutist/bassist Dick Healey to complete the ensemble that toured together until 1958 and often grew to quintet /sextet to record.

Leaving Canada for Detroit, Michigan, Brokensha was hired by Berry Gordy of Motown Records as a percussionist, becoming one of the few white members of Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. recording studio’s house band, The Funk Brothers. He was given the nickname “White Jack”, to distinguish him from Jack Ashford, an African American percussionist nicknamed “Black Jack”.

During the 1970s he ran “Brokensha’s”, a steakhouse high up in a Downtown Building whilst working at Motown. Though relatively small, the  club had good food and Jack’s great music, with occasional appearance by his friend and pianist Detroit resident, pianist Bess Bonnier. Following tours of Australia with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Stan Freberg, he founded his own music production company and did a session with Art Mardigan in 1963. Jack then became more active in radio as a disc jockey and writing music for television. He recorded as a leader again in 1980 and continued to lead his own group well into the 1990s. The Australian Jazz Quartet also reunited for tours and recording in 1994, leaving a small collection of some thirteen albums as a leader and member of the quartet.

Vibraphonist Jack Brokensha moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he passed away due to complications from congestive heart failure, at age 84 on October 28, 2010.


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reuben-radding

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Reuben Radding was born on December 29, 1966 in Washington, DC and began his musical career in the DC punk scene. After moving to New York City in 1988, he studied double bass with Mark Dresser and composition with Edgar Grana, who were strong influence on his musical development as well as William Parker.

He played in various genres from avant-garde jazz to swing, folk, pop, Klezmer and chamber music with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Anthony Coleman, Andrea Parkins, Dave Douglas, Roy Campbell and Rashid Bakr. With Marc Ribot he toured Europe and Canada in 1995 and leading his own band Myth Science, he played compositions by Sun Ra. He recorded the album Love in Outer Space at the Knitting Factory. Radding co-founded the experimental trio Refuseniks with John Hollenbeck and Ted Reichman .

By early 1997 he moved to Seattle, Washington playing in the trio of alto saxophonist Wally Shoup, and performing improvisationally with musicians Saadet Türköz , Carlo Actis Dato and Wolfgang Fuchs . In 2001 he performed in a duet with Daniel Carter on the Earshot Jazz Festival, and in 2003 gained international notoriety with his release of Luminescence.

He has recorded albums with Ursel Schlicht , Stephen Gauci, Carlos Bechegas, Nate Wooley, Mary Halvorson, Frank London and Tomas Fujiwara. Currently back in New York, bassist Reuben Radding performs and records with his trio comprised of  vibraphonist Matt Moran and clarinetist Oscar Noriega, as well as with an improvising trio with Tara Flandreau and Carrie Shull, and operates Pine Ear Music label.


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