I’m really looking forward to playing a set at the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston this Tuesday 1st August, opening for incredible pianist and fellow Norfolk boy Kit Downes. Can’t wait to hear Kit’s set – he’ll be joined by Sam Lasserson on bass and Colin Stranahan, who’s over from New York, on drums. I’m playing with Conor Chaplin and James Maddren and we’ll be playing our take on this beautiful Richard Rodgers song and this v v hip Dexter Gordon number, amongst other things. More info about the gig here.
Very happy to say that my debut album, Golden Earrings, is being released on Fresh Sound New Talent Records on September 1st 2017. It’s a duo with the amazing New York pianist, Michael Kanan, and features compositions by the likes of Nat ‘King’ Cole, Duke Ellington, Jerome Kern, Victor Young, Irving Berlin, plus one original of mine. Michael will also be coming over to the UK for an album release tour in September, with an album launch gig at the Vortex Jazz Club on 13th September. More info to follow on all the gigs and how to buy/preorder the album etc, but here’s a short promo video for the album:
Born in 1928, Hampton Hawes was a pianist from Los Angeles who played with Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Wardell Gray and Art Pepper. I just finished reading his autobiography, Raise Up Off Me, written with Don Asher, himself a jazz pianist as well as an author. I’d rate it as perhaps my favourite book about jazz: it’s written in an honest, conversational tone and features stories about Miles, Monk and Billie Holliday, as well as serious discussions about race alongside entertaining stuff on his time abroad with the army during the Korean War.
Hawes struggled with heroin addiction (as seems to have been almost the norm for West Coast jazz musicians in the 1950s), and was sent to prison for narcotics offences at the height of his career in the late ’50s. But, incredibly, he received a presidential pardon from John F. Kennedy after serving half of his 10 year sentence.
Some musicians have an identifiably West Coast Sound: Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper (another troubled jazz musician who wrote a searingly honest account of a life of jazz and addiction) and Bud Shank spring to mind. I don’t think this can be said of Hawes: his lines are pure bebop (at least in his earlier work – he experimented with fusion later on but I am less familiar with that stuff), and he acknowledged Bird as his primary influence, with the gospel music of his youth (his father was a pastor) also informing his sound.
Bud Powell’s solo on Celia, the pianist’s own composition named for his daughter, is one of the great bebop performances. A real one-chorus-wonder, it appears on the album Jazz Giant, which comprises two trio sessions: one recorded in 1949 with Ray Brown and Max Roach, and one from 1950 with Roach and Curley Russell. Continue reading “Celia”