Cab Kaye was born Nii-lante Augustus Kwamlah Quaye on September 3, 1921 on St. Giles High Street in Camden, London to a musical family of Ghanaian ancestry. After his father’s death when he was four months they moved to Portsmouth where he was introduced to the timpani by a soldier who taught him how to count and use the mallets. At fourteen, he began visiting nightclubs where Black musicians were welcome, and where he eventually won first prize in a song contest and a tour with the Billy Cotton band. In 1936, he recorded his first song Shoe Shine Boy under the name Cab Quay.
During 1937 Kaye played drums and percussion with Doug Swallow and his band, the Hal Swain Band and Alan Green’s band. Until 1940 he sang and drummed with the Ivor Kirchin Band, with Steve Race on piano, in the Paramount Dance Hall on Tottenham Court Road. When a guest was refused entrance because of their skin colour, Kaye refused to perform, the incident led to the regular acceptance of black people and the venue grew into a sort of Harlem of London.
He would go on to play with Britain’s first black swing bandleader Ken “Snakehips” Johnson and His Rhythm Swingers, play in several radio broadcasts and joined the British Merchant Navy before his mother and Johnson were killed in bombings during World War II. A move to New York saw him playing in Harlem and Greenwich Village with Roy Eldridge, Sandy Williams, Slam Stewart, Pete Brown, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Willie “The Lion” Smith. Returning to London in 1943 he sang with clarinetist Harry Parry, then formed a band that included 16-year-old saxophonist Ronnie Schatt (Ronnie Scott), Ralph Sharon and Dick Katz on piano. Following this he sang with Vic Lewis, Ted Heath, Tito Burns and Jazz In The Town. Leading his own bands Ronnie Scott, Johnny Dankworth and Denis Rose. Throughout his career he formed several bands that included Mary Lou Williams, Dizzy Reece, Dennis Rose, Denny Coffey, Dave Smallman, Pat Burke and performed with Billy Daniels, Benny Payne Eartha Kitt, and 16 year old Shirley Bassey among numerous others
Opening his own club in Amsterdam he performed with visiting musicians such as Rosa King, Slide Hampton, Aart Gisolf, Dirk-Jan “Bubblin” Toorop, David Mayer, Gerrie van der Klei, Cameron Japp, Max Roach, Oscar Peterson, Pia Beck and others. During this period Cab played all the major festivals until the 1990s when he was diagnosed with mouth floor cancer that resulted in the loss of the ability to speak. On March 13, 2000 vocalist, pianist, guitarist, drummer and composer Cab Kaye, also known as Cab Quay, Cab Quaye and Kwamlah Quaye and who recorded for the Melody Maker label, passed away at the age of 78.
Clifford Jarvis was born on August 26, 1941 in Boston, Massachusetts and studied at Berklee College of Music in the 1950s. Moving to New York City, he established himself in jazz between 1959 and 1966 by recording with Chet Baker, Randy Weston, Yusef Lateef, Freddie Hubbard, Barry Harris, Jackie McLean, and Elmo Hope, and playing with Grant Green and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
From 1962 to 1976 Jarvis performed and recorded with Sun Ra. He also played and recorded with Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Simmons, Alice Coltrane, Kenny Drew, Walter Davis, Archie Shepp and recorded with organist John Patton on the Blue Note album That Certain Feeling in 1968.
By the 1980s Jarvis moved to London, England, where he played with emerging musicians such as Courtney Pine. He worked in music education at Chats Palace Arts Centre in London and was senior drum tutor at Pyramid Arts Development, Dalston, from 1984 to 1994.
Hard bop and free jazz drummer Clifford Jarvis was an educator and performer until his passing on November 26, 1999 in London.
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Cecil Brooks III was born on August 16. 1959 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and started playing drums at age 5, studying with his father Cecil Brooks, Jr., a renowned jazz drummer. His father introduced him to Art Blakey, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones and the jazz drumming tradition. He would go on professional performances with his father and by the age of 14 he was performing professional gigs on his own.
Awarded a full music scholarship at Mt. Aloysius College and Duquesne University and after receiving his degree, he played around the metropolitan city with visiting heavyweights. Cecil was virtually reviewed in every major music publication and newspaper as well as on Pittsburgh television and radio.
In 1984, Brooks moved to New York City where his first gigs were with Houston Person and Etta Jones. He toured and recorded with the duet for several years. During the same time he also performed with Oliver Lake, Mingus Dynasty/Big Band, Terence Blanchard, David Murray, Terumasa Hino, Greg Osby, Andrew Hill, Michelle Rosewoman, Nat Adderley and many others.
Brooks has released 9 CDs as a leader starting with The Collective to his latest Hot D.O.G. where he holds down with crisp and powerful drumming on the recording. He has performed and/or recorded with Jack McDuff, Andrew Hill, Hannibal Peterson, Groove Holmes, Don Braden, Jack Walrath and many more. He has produced John Hicks, Jimmy Ponder, Hannibal Peterson, Winard Harper, Darrell Grant, Bruce Williams, Radam Schwartz, Leon Lee Dorsey, Akua Dixon Turre, Russell Gunn Jr, Ron Jackson, Nat Simpkins, Eric Johnson, Roseanna Vitro, Arthur Blythe, Chris White, Don Braden, Talib Kibwe, and the list goes on.
For nine years beginning in 2003 he was the proprietor of Cecil’s Jazz Club in West Orange, New Jersey. IHe has had Cecil’s Monday Night Big Band featured ABC’s Nightline, has hosted visiting jazz greats and pros who live in the area. Home to bassist Christian McBride, pianist Geri Allen, saxophonist Don Braden, trombonist Steve Turre, and Herbie Hancock were all were regulars at the club and Bill Cosby launched the grand opening.
He has been the subject of many articles and reviews: Jazziz, DownBeat, Modern Drummer, JazzTimes, Hot House, The New York Times, BET Jazz Central, Time Warner Cable TV 90 minute documentary Cecil Brooks III The Third Generation, and many other major publications worldwide. He has toured throughout Europe, South America, Japan, the United States and Canada. Drummer, composer, arranger, producer and educator Cecil Brooks continues to swing as he performs, records and tours.
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Bill Dowdy was born August 15, 1932 in Osceola, Arkansas but his family moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan when he was six months old. At a young age he would beat on things as if he were playing the drums, an indication of his future musical career. It was in high school that he learned to play the piano and the drums and in 1949 had a group called Club 49 Trio that group played on the radio in Chicago.
After Dowdy started his own music group, he moved to Battle Creek, Michigan and joined a band before being drafted by the Army. After his discharge he landed in Chicago and took private lessons to improve his musical skills. Over time he became a professional drummer, playing with many blues bands. He continued traveling from New York City to Los Angeles, California to Canada and the South.
Bill joined the jazz trio, The Three Sounds and recorded over ten jazz albums from the 1950s through the early 1970s. He also played with Lester Young, Lou Donaldson, Nat Adderley, Johnny Griffin, Anita O’Day and Sonny Stitt among others.
Drummer, bandleader and teacher Bill Dowdy, whose idols included Gene Krupa, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, and Tony Williams, passed away on May 12, 2017.
If you’ve ever been to the Crescent City, then you are well aware of the charms that seduce its visitors, as its residents are already under the city’s spell. Within its confines and in neighboring jurisdictions belies a cornucopia of delights in the aromas of varied cuisines, ample drinks and lots of music. It is, however, the latter that embraces and stimulates the enthusiast and aficionado to move to the myriad of rhythms.
So don’t allow the cover art to tempt you to pigeonhole this group of world class musicians in some staid understanding of what NOLA offers, for you just may miss their stellar performances. And for you initiates who have yet to sample the delights there is no better place to begin your journey than with a tasting of Sweetness. This is a recording representative of the talent that continues to spring forth from the city that has heralded the title of the birthplace of jazz.
Sweetness not only lends itself to the cuisine of the Crescent City but also invokes the very nature of the musicianship that is its tapestry. Herein lies the beauty of the compositions performed by drummer Rick Bear, guitarist John Fohl, bassist Jason Stewart and trumpeter/trombonist Ken Gregory. Stir in the piano and organ of Herb Avery and the vocals of Hampton B. Cole and you understand why jazz remains such an integral component to the gumbo that is New Orleans.
The base ingredients of this gumbo of compositions are Bechet, Waller, Rodgers & Hart, Henderson, Monk, Mitchell, Hines, Hancock, Ronell, Patton and Bernie who set the stage for this compendium of jazz standards. There is nothing subtle about their choices as they pay homage to the jazz canon and the Great American Songbook. So put aside any and all biases as to what may be and enjoy listening to these arrangements.
The set opens with the Sidney Bechet classic Petite Fleur where Spanish trumpet and French guitar influences conjoin in a flourish of style. The rest of the album follows with jazz standards – Willow Weep For Me, Rosetta, My Funny Valentine, Honeysuckle Rose, Bye Bye Blackbird, ‘Round Midnight, Hard Times, Jitterbug Waltz, Cantaloupe Island, Funky Mama and Sweet Georgia Brown.
Gregory takes the lead on most songs and his interpretations of My Funny Valentine and Round Midnight, the two ballads presented here, mournfully take you into a place of melancholy. The trumpet and trombone spell out his attributes, begging Valentine not to leave. On the latter, Fahl’s guitar quietly releases the anguish of a soul as it spells out its woes.
Hard Times is juxtaposed against its name with a rhythm that is anything less than enjoyable. Composed by Paul Mitchell during the turbulent Sixties, Americans on both sides of the struggle found lighter moments. Just the same way society did in finding its fun during the war years in the Jitterbug Waltz of Fats Waller.
Fohl opens up Cantaloupe Island with an easy strum and accompanies Gregory through what puts me in the mood for a hammock, warm breezes, sand and a cooler as the Hammond B3, guitar and the trombone swing you into a toe-tapping, finger snapping mode on Funky Mama. The closing tune on the album, Sweet Georgia Brown, opens with a ends the set on a fun note, a fitting tribute to the vocals of their recently departed friend, Colonel Bruce Hampton (Hampton B. Cole), making this final studio recording and an apt farewell.
Throughout the project, Rick Bear leads his compatriots and keeps time, allowing each musician to bring his sensibility to the signature sound that emanates from this city. Subtle though it may be, this session extolls a synchronicity in the songs that tell stories that are American made, as are the players whose star-power has not diminished.
To return to an earlier statement, allow me to clear up any misconception it was not my intent to disregard the thought behind the cover. I merely mentioned not to be distracted or form an opinion of what lay behind because there is a sellable story in the art. The missing part of the sign painted on the side of the building is A. J. ‘S Produce Co. Inc, 3162 Chartres. Angelo Benandi, the son who broke away from the family produce business at the French Market, established it in 1983. The Creole Tomato is grown in Louisiana soil in the river parishes along the Mississippi where the soil is richer. They are large, meatier, heat resistant, stay on the vine longer and hit the table so much sweeter. So when you’re down in New Orleans feel the pulse of the city, have a robust taste of homegrown and you’ll begin to understand the flavor that is The Big Easy.
Carl Anthony / Notorious Jazz / August 3, 2017