Jackie McLean - Lights Out!
w/ Donald Byrd, Elmo Hope, Art Taylor and Doug Watkins
with Doug Watkins, Hank Mobley and Art Farmer.
An Italian record company released the “lost recordings” of Miles Davis, but the trumpeter on the cover of the record is Ambrose Akinmusire. They don’t know what Miles Davis looks like. Ambrose and Miles don’t exactly look alike, not to mention that Ambrose is a young man who was born in the early 80s. Given Akinmusire’s age, the picture the record label used was taken in the 2000s. For context, Miles was in his mid to late 20s in the early 50s. They were only off by more than half a century…
Several years ago, Bass Player magazine ran a feature story on Paul Chambers, giving him the cover. One problem, the guy on the cover wasn’t Paul Chambers. It was Doug Watkins. Is that a firable offense? Bass player magazine not being able to identify one of the most prolific bass players in history is inexcusable. I’m waiting for Jazz Times to have a Louis Armstrong tribute issue with Bix Beiderbecke on the cover.
When you google Fela Kuti, the first few images are actually Femi Kuti. Some Wilson Pickett photos are labeled as Jimi Hendrix and vice versa. I could go on and on, but there is so much wrong information out there it’s scary. The misinformation is now becoming the standard, and it feels like combating it is an uphill battle. The internet has been a godsend for the amount of information available at your fingertips, but it’s also been a nightmare since you can’t stop misinformation from filtering through because the floodgates are open. You can’t say “google it” anymore, because a lot of what comes up in google search is wrong.
That said, it’s kind of sad that outfits who should know better (Bass Player magazine!) make these types of mistakes. The carelessness is a top down thing. From music labels, to magazines to tumblr. It’s everywhere, and I hate being the guy who harps on it, but it’s getting to me. Recently there was an obituary for Marva Whitney that used an image of the very much alive Betty Davis. When I saw the obituary notice and the iconic image of Betty Davis, my heart sank. I thought Betty Davis was dead, until I read it was for Marva Whitney. You can’t be reckless when putting out that kind of information, especially with matters of death.
Before that someone put up a picture of Blue Mitchell as Lee Morgan. And we all know that Billie Holiday was a young twenty something year old trumpeter in the 60s according to pictures on the internet, even though she would have been close to her 50s at that point. Oh, and Billie Holiday died in 1959. She came back as a foxy ghost in the 60s apparently and miraculously shaved a few decades off. Black don’t crack, even in death.
Funny story: Last year I was at the Blue Note club, and there were flyers for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. I kid you not, someone asked me what time Duke Ellington was performing. I thought I was on one of those hidden camera shows and remember thinking how lame this prank was, but he was sincere in asking. No big deal, he didn’t know, so I told him Duke had been dead for almost 40 years, and that if he was still alive, he would be like 113 years old. The Orchestra, like many Orchestras is in name only and they play the music of the composer they are named after. Does anyone go to a Mingus Big Band show expecting Charles Mingus to walk out on stage? I don’t walk down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard expecting MLK to be standing on the corner. It would really be something to see a 113 year old guy still touring and putting on concerts though. Even after death, some people still want black folks to put in work! :P
Anyway, back to the “lost recordings” of Miles Davis album. A record label putting out a Miles Davis record doesn’t know what Miles Davis looked like! HOLY SHIT! To quote Amy Winehouse - "What kind of fuckery is this?"
Born on this day: Tommy Flanagan
Here’s Minor Mishap with Flanagan, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Louis Hayes, Doug Watkins and Idrees Sulieman.
The Pepper-Knepper Quintet had Pepper Adams and Jimmy Knepper co-leading a group that had Doug Watkins, Elvin Jones and Wynton Kelly in the rhythm section. It was short lived, but memorable.
True story: Charles Mingus got into an argument with Jimmy Knepper and punched him in the face, breaking one of Knepper’s teeth. It caused permanent damage to his embouchure.
Hank Mobley, Horace Silver, and Doug Watkins during a rehearsal for Hank Mobley & His All Stars session, NYC January 13, 1957
The Jazz Messengers on Columbia Records, 1956. The lineup is Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Doug Watkins and Donald Byrd. It’s a great album. However, while it was happening, a former original Jazz Messenger was also forming his own hard bop collective.
Donald Byrd was the replacement for Kenny Dorham who had left the Jazz Messengers to form his own group called ‘The Jazz Prophets’.
The Jazz Prophets was a short-lived group, but what they recorded together was great. Highlights are Kenny Dorham and The Jazz Prophets and 'Round About Midnight at the Cafe Bohemia. The Cafe Bohemia LP features the recording debut of Bobby Timmons. He was only 20 years old.
As fate would have it, Timmons later joined The Jazz Messengers, and is more known for his work with Art Blakey. However, it should not be forgotten that it was Kenny Dorham who gave him his first shot with The Jazz Prophets.
Lee Morgan - Candy
Lee recorded this masterpiece when he was only 19 years old.
Born on this day: Louis Smith
Louis Smith is another unsung great trumpeter. He turns 80 today. He started his career as a leader with Blue Note records with the album “Here Comes Louis Smith”. It featured Art Taylor, Tommy Flanagan, Duke Jordan, Doug Watkins and Cannonball Adderley who went by the pseudonym “Buckshot La Funke” because he was under contract with Mercury records. You may remember the Branford Marsalis led collective called “Buckshot LeFonque” in the 90s that spawned two albums, including one that featured a collaboration with DJ Premier. The Buckshot LeFonque name is derived from Cannonball Adderley’s pseudonym on Louis Smith’s “Here Comes Louis Smith” album.
Louis Smith had large gaps in his career as a recording artist because he was an educator. His cousin was the great Booker Little, also a tremendous trumpeter. He passed away at only 23.
Mono pressing of John Coltrane’s ‘Dakar’ from 1963. Read more about this underrated album here.
Gatefold cover featuring Francis Wolff photos of Hank Mobley’s debut as a leader. He’s joined by Horace Silver, Art Blakey and Doug Watkins. All of them were the original Jazz Messengers lineup. The only missing person here is Kenny Dorham. Two days after completing this recording session, Mobley as a sideman recorded ‘Afro Cuban’ with Kenny Dorham. Blakey and Silver came along as well.