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Norman Granz' Jazz at the Philharmonic Second British Tour 1959 005

Norman Granz' Jazz at the Philharmonic Second British Tour 1959 005

Pages 6 and 7 of a souvenir brochure for Norman Granz and Harold Davison's second Jazz at the Philharmonic British tour. Both pages continue profiles of musicians performing at Jazz at the Philharmonic, including Gene Krupa, Lou Levy, Gus Johnson and Sonny Stitt.

Image Details

Catalogue Reference Number NJA/PRO/4
Creator Jack Higgins, Benny Green
Date Made 1959
Item Format Programme
Title or Caption
Event Date May 2nd - 17th 1959

This text has been generated by computer from the image and may contain typographical and/or grammatical errors.

Leader of his own quartet on this JATP bill is Gene Krupa, who was with the show on its brief 1953 visit. Krupa has earned his place in jazz history a dozen times over, and already he must possess one of the longest and most variegated records of all jazzmen. From the days of the Chicagoans. Gene graduated to the Benny Goodman groups and found himself thereby involved in another chapter of jazz history. Then came the period of the swinging big band, and finally the years in which he has exhibited his technique and his innate powers of showmanship time and again for JATP audiences. Nobody who saw the Flood Relief Concert will forget the sight of Krupa, dwarfed by his own giant shadow behind him, playing like a man possessed.
The pianist in the Krupa Quartet will for many in the audiences be the most interesting
musician present, for he is the first British musician to appear on a JATP bill. Those who
followed the fortunes of British modernism in its cellar days will remember the studios-looking, bespectacled boy from Birmingham, Ronnie Ball. In 1951 Ronnie led his own trio at the Studio 51, enlarging his reputation and putting in practice the things he learnt while working the New
York run on the Cunard Line. Soon after he emigrated to the United States, since which time
his stock has risen slowly but steadily until today we find him back among us, something of a conquering hero. The cycle is complete.
Completing the Krupa rhythm section is bassist Jim Gannon, who is represented in the British catalogues by the Australian Jazz Quartet releases on which he plays so well.
Featured with Krupa on saxes and flute is Eddie Wasserman, who is another musician who reflects the current modern fashion of adding to the normal reed instruments of saxophone and clarinet, those of the flute.
Last time JATP came here many people were impressed with the brilliant piano playing of Lou Levy, and this time, on his second British visit, Levy fronts his own quartet. His career has been what advertising copywriters usually describe as checkered. Levy, despite his silvering hair, was born as recently as 1928 in Chicago, and made his professional debut with Georgie Auld in
1947. In the next four years he worked with many outstanding jazz personalities, including Sarah Vaughan, Chubby Jackson, Boyd Raeburn, Shelly Manne, Bill Harris, Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Shavers, Louis Bellson, Terry Gibbs and Flip Phillips. Then in 1951 there occurred a slight hiatus. Levy retired and took a job as an advertising salesman for a Dental Survey magazine. It was not till the end of 1954 that he made his inevitable return to the jazz scene when he became house pianist at the Blue Note in Chicago.
With Levy on guitar is Mitchell Herbert Ellis, who for so long was featured with the Peterson trio. Ellis’s first professional job was with Glenn Gray’s Casa Loma Orchestra in 1944. He moved over to the Jimmy Dorsey band where he first began to acquire a reputation with Soft Winds vocal-instrumental trio. He replaced Barney Kessel in JATP in 1953. One facet of Ellis’s musical activities is not as widely known as it might be. He is a talented songwriter, and at least two of his songs will be familiar to those who know of Billie Holiday and June Christy, “Detour Ahead ” and “ I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out ”,
Wilford Middlebrook, bom Chattanooga, is the bassist who after a spell in the United States Army joined the band of ex-Basie altoist Tab Smith in 1953. He is also featured on the recently released EP of the Mel Lewis-Bill Perkins sextet.
On drums with the Levy group is another musician familiar to British enthusiasts, Gus Johnson. Gus, like Ellis a Texan, went to school in Dallas with Basie trombonist Henry Coker. He couldn’t have gone for very long, however, for he started as a professional at the age of nine, being billed as a child prodigy on piano, bass and drums. In the I930’s Johnson worked around that hotbed of jazz developments, Kansas City, coming to New York in 1941 with one of the most significant bands in jazz history, that of Jay McShann. Thus Johnson became one of the very first musicians to know at first hand the nature of the one-man revolution which Charlie Parker was beginning while with McShann. Like Ellis, Johnson can write a song when the mood takes him, and his tune “ Get Me On Your Mind ” was the first number ever recorded by the great blind singer, A1 Hibbler. After a spell in the U.S. Army, Johnson joined the last of the Earl Hines big bands and then, in 1948, joined Basie, with whom he stayed for the next six years. Since then he has been a familiar figure on jazz LP’s, and especially noteworthy were the multi-f recorded tracks he cut with Zoot Sims.
It has become the practice with JATP to include, in addition to the set groups, some star instrumentalists who are featured as soloists. This is a practice which has slowly evolved over the years and the tours, and has been found to be the best way of presenting the diversity of talent Granz always presents without allowing contrasting styles to clash.
Whether Boston, Massachusetts, likes it or not, one of the most illustrious sons it has produced to date is Edward “ Sonny ” Stitt, saxophone virtuoso, and for many people the most enjoyable saxophonist on the modern scene since the death of Charlie Parker deprived jazz of its greatest master. Stitt has been part of the modern jazz revolution right from its inception. Born in February, 1924, he played alto in Detroit for a while before joining Dizzy Gillespie in 1946. The older British modern enthusiasts may recall the British release of “ Oop Bop Sh’Bam ” on which Stitt took a most Parkeresque alto solo.
After the spell with Gillespie, Stitt dropped out of the picture, to return three years later as a tenor player in a group co-led by himself and another tenorist, Gene Ammons. It was perhaps now for the first time that his playing began to get the attention it deserved. Away from the alto, an instrument on which all comparisons with the giant Parker were odious, Stitt revealed a slight difference of style to Stitt the alto player, for there was much more of Lester Young in his playing than there had been before. Since those days Stitt has made periodic returns to the alto besides making several recordings on baritone, and on all three of them has revealed that, after Parker, he is perhaps the most fluent and exciting saxophonist in the modern jazz movement.
It apparently makes little difference to him which saxophone he happens to be playing. When I had the pleasure two years ago of seeing him work in Newark, N.J., he was leading a quartet and playing alto and tenor as the mood took him. On both instruments he possessed a blinding technique and a rare melodic gift. It was one of the very few occasions on which I have not been even slightly disappointed on hearing in the flesh a jazz musician whose recorded work has delighted me.