Monday, 19 April 2021

Jack Tucker born 19 April 1918


Jack Tucker (19 April 1918 - 26 September 1996) was an American traditional country and rockabilly singer. 

He was born Morris Tucker in Haleyville near Oklahoma City and came from a musical family. Jack and his brother Hubert (aka Herb) led bands in Los Angeles, playing spots like the Hitching Post, Harmony Park Ballroom, and so on. Jack had a Saturday night television show on Channel 11. Tommy Allsup graduated from Herb Tucker’s band, and according to some, Herb led the more musically sophisticated outfit. 

                              

Nevertheless, Tucker’s recording career was quite extensive. There was a demo session for Modern in 1949 and his first 4 Star record was a reissue of a 1953 disc for the 4* custom Debut label. 

Other records, usually with the Oklahoma Playboys, appeared on Starday (1954), RCA’s « X » imprint (1955), Downbeat, with Bob Stanley (1956), Audie Andrews on Debut, himself on Bel Aire and Nielsen (1957). Guitarist Danny Michaels remembered that Tucker was playing at the Pioneer Room on Pioneer Blvd, when they did the 4 Star session. 

Jack had built up one of the most popular dance bands in Southern California and was featured in the most prominent and biggest Western shows all over the West Coast, such as “Hometown Jamboree” “Country Barn Dance” “Spade Cooley’s Santa Monica Ballroom” “The Don Ameche Show” for CBS, and the Bell Aire Hotel. He also appeared in movies for MGM and 20th Century Fox.

Tucker appears to have bowed out with a clutch of records for Toppa in 1961-1962, and later for the Public label in 1969 and the Young Country label from 1969 to 1976 after which there is no information as to what he was doing between then and his death on September 26, 1996.       (Edited mainly from bopping.org)

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Leo Parker born 18 April 1925

Leo Parker (April 18, 1925 - February 11, 1962) was an American jazz musician who played baritone saxophone. 

Born in Washington, D.C., Parker studied alto saxophone in high school. By 1944 he was living in New York and sitting-in at Minton’s with among others Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Max Roach. It was because of his appearances at the club that he was invited to take part in what is considered to be the first bebop recording date on the 16th February 1944 for the Apollo label. Later that year, he joined the trail-blazing Billy Eckstine band eventually sitting in a section with Sonny Stitt, John Jackson and Dexter Gordon who were known as “The Unholy Four” possibly because of their extra-musical activities. It was whilst in Eckstine’s band that Parker switched to baritone and began to garner notice. 

He left the Eckstine band in 1946 and in March of that year he worked at the Spotlite club first with Benny Carter and then with Dizzy Gillespie. Dizzy’s group (Milt Jackson, Al Haig, Ray Brown and Stan Levey) had been appearing in Los Angeles with Charlie Parker. On their return to New York, Charlie had stayed on the west coast so Leo was selected to take his place on baritone. His first recorded baritone solo took place two months later on a Sarah Vaughan date with a string section and a small group featuring Bud Powell, Freddie Webster and Kenny Clarke. Leo is heard on My Kinda Love. 

In January 1947 he recorded four sides with Fats Navarro for Savoy where he proved to be a fluent and mature soloist with a big sound. 1947 was also the year he joined Illinois Jacquet who had just signed an exclusive recording contract with RCA. The Jacquet group who appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1948 was one of the most popular in the country. He remained with the band off and on until 1954. Joe Newman who was in the band was similarly impressed, “Leo Parker was undoubtedly the best baritone player I had heard at that time. He didn’t sound like a baritone. He played it like a tenor more or less and he had such fire in him whatever he played. Plus he played good ballads.” 


                              

For most of 1947 Parker was busy in the studios whenever Jacquet was on the road. His recording of Mad Lad with Sir Charles Thompson in the late summer helped raise his profile sufficiently for him to start working with his own groups around town. It became his nickname and his inspired performance was something of a hit.

In October while working with Gene Ammons in Chicago they recorded four titles for the Aladdin label with Junior Mance who was making his recording debut. His first date as a leader later that month was for Savoy with Ammons again together with Howard McGhee. 

After 1948 his career was frequently interrupted by the personal problems that were so common among musicians of his generation.  A 1957 Nat Hentoff survey of 409 NYC jazz musicians found that 16% were regular heroin users and over half smoked marijuana. He continued working intermittently around NYC, Washington and Chicago and in 1953 his booking office – Universal Attractions – placed the following item in Down Beat’s Band Directory: “Leo Parker, after a short recent stint with Gene Ammons is now out on his own with a six-piece group playing many R&B locations, one-niters and some clubs.  Band is gutty, frenetic and features Oscar Pettiford’s brother Ira on bass and trumpet”. 

In 1954 he recorded with Bill Jennings who had worked extensively with Louis Jordan but nothing else is known of his activities for the remainder of the ‘50s possibly due to problems with drug abuse. He managed to get his career back on track thanks to Ike Quebec who arranged for him to make two Blue Note albums in 1961 which find him in top form. 

He started getting brief club engagements again and things seemed to be improving for him, however, on the 11th. February 1962 after arranging a further recording session with Blue Note he returned to his hotel in New York City where he suffered a heart attack and died while running a bath. He was 36.  He remains an unjustly neglected figure. Anyone discovering Leo Parker now for the first time is in for a big treat. 

(Edited mainly from Jazz Profiles)

Saturday, 17 April 2021

James Wayne born 17 April 1924


James Douglas Wayne (April 17, 1924* – March 31, 1978), who recorded in the 1950s and early 1960s as James Waynes, James Wayne, and Wee Willie Wayne, was an American rhythm and blues singer, songwriter and musician. He recorded "a fine blend of Texas blues and New Orleans R&B". He had a no.2 hit on the Billboard R&B chart in 1951 with the song "Tend To Your Business", and that year also recorded one of the earliest versions of the widely performed song "Junco Partner". 

Details of his life are obscure. According to his own account, he was born in Houston, Texas, in 1920, although some sources give his birthplace as Jefferson County, Texas with a date of birth in 1924, and others state it as New Orleans.  He claimed to have undertaken training as a commando, and spent time in jail around 1950 for burglary, before becoming a musician. He sang, played guitar, and reportedly also played drums. 


                              

He is believed to have first recorded in Houston, for the Sittin' In With record label started by Bob Shad. His recording of "Tend To Your Business" became a hit in 1951, and stayed on the R&B chart for 14 weeks. He followed it up with "Junco Partner (Worthless Man)" in 1952, recorded by Shad in Atlanta, Georgia. According to musician Mac Rebennack (Dr. John), Wayne's version made the song popular, although it was already widely known among musicians in New Orleans and elsewhere. It was a song they sang in Angola, the state prison farm, and the rhythm was even known as the 'jailbird beat'." In all, he recorded five singles for the Sittin' In With label, the first three credited to James Waynes, with a final "s". 

Wayne then recorded with Lee Allen and other musicians for Imperial Records in New Orleans, before moving to the Aladdin label in Los Angeles, and then Old Town Records. He returned to Imperial in 1955, when he began to record as Wee Willie Wayne. One of his recordings there was "Travelin' Mood", which became another R&B standard recorded by Dr. John and others; the B-side was "I Remember", another classic recording He also recorded for the Peacock and Angletone labels, before, in 1961, returning again to Imperial where he recorded an updated version of "Tend To Your Business", as part of an album, Travelin' Mood, mostly made up of earlier recordings. 

He did not record after 1961. In February 1967, he was arrested after setting fire to a motel in South Central Los Angeles following an argument with its manager, and was charged on three felony counts. He was found to have had a history of alcoholism, and to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and was committed to a mental health institution. His claims of having been a successful musician were initially discounted by the authorities. He spent several years in the Atascadero State Mental Hospital in the early 1970s, before being released. 

In 1975, he was reportedly living in Los Angeles. According to blues researchers Bob Eagle and Eric LeBlanc, he died in Los Angeles in 1978 and was buried at Santa Fe Springs. 

(Edited from Wikipedia) (* other sources give date of birth given as March 3, 1920) Seems there is only one photo of James Wayne hence the lack of pics.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Herbie Mann born 16 April 1930


Herbert Jay Solomon (April 16, 1930 – July 1, 2003), known professionally by his stage name Herbie Mann, was an American jazz flautist and important early practitioner of world music. Early in his career, he also played tenor saxophone and clarinet (including bass clarinet), but Mann was among the first jazz musicians to specialize on the flute. 

Herbie Mann was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish parents who were of Russian and Romanian descent. Both of his parents were dancers and singers, as well as dance instructors later in life. Mann's childhood passion for rhythm found noisy expression on sundry household utensils. This interest would later resurface in his explorations of African and Latin music but, when Mann was nine, his mother redirected his nascent talent by taking him to a Benny Goodman concert near their home.. That experience turned Mann on to playing the clarinet though by the age of 14, when he began his first professional engagements, he had switched to tenor saxophone. 

A four-year stint with the US Army in Trieste, Italy, saw him honing his musical skills with the 98th Army Band. When he left the military, he struggled to find his own voice and felt thwarted by a surfeit of similar-sounding competitors. Prompted by an offer of session work as a flautist with a then unknown Carmen McRae, he took up the flute, eventually becoming the first jazz musician to establish his career performing almost exclusively on this perennially unfashionable instrument. 

His first album, Herbie Mann Plays (1954), was conventional bebop, but he soon developed a tougher sound which would suit his growing interest in other areas such as Afro-Cuban music. By 1957, he had his first hit with "The Evolution of Mann". Two years later he formed the ground-breaking Afro-Jazz Sextet, which toured 15 African countries in 1960 on a quest for connections with the roots of the music they were exploring. Soon after, Mann initiated an enduring on-off love affair with Brazil and its music. He first toured there in 1961 and became enchanted by the bossa nova movement, later describing this period as the seminal musical experience of his life. 

                              

The following year yielded the best-selling album Herbie Mann at the Village Gate and his biggest hit, "Comin' Home Baby". Still hooked on bossa, he returned to Brazil, recording with the likes of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Sergio Mendes and Baden Powell. By the mid 60’s  the bossa craze had subsided in the face of world domination by the Beatles. Mann then turned his attention to Middle Eastern music, and the end of that decade found him toying with rock and even R&B flavours. 

His 1969 album Memphis Underground captures him at the peak of his popularity and is considered a landmark in soul-jazz fusion. It featured such talents as Roy Ayers, Larry Coryell, Sonny Sharrock and the Weather Report bassist Miroslav Vitous and set the tone for his 1970s experiments in rock and funk with his band the Family of Mann. 

Mann's penchant for rock first surfaced on the controversial album Push Push (1971), which included a guest appearance by the Southern rock luminary Duane Allman. In 1974, he called on the services of Stéphane Grappelli and Mick Taylor to play on London Underground, a covers album of songs by the likes of Eric Clapton, Traffic and the Rolling Stones. Mann's mid- and late-Seventies albums showcased subsequent forays into disco and reggae, only reaffirming the populist nature of his work, which often reflected contemporary musical fashions. He recorded three disco albums which brought him the Top Ten hit "High Jack", but further alienated what was left of his jazz following. 

When he turned his back on flirtations with pop and returned to his passion for Brazilian music, his popularity waned, thus bringing to an end in 1979 his 20-year relationship with Atlantic Records. Though he continued to record, Mann spent much of the next decade in obscurity, only rallying with the formation of his group Jasil Brazz, with whom he made a comeback of sorts with the 1990 album Caminho de Casa. 

In 1989, Mann had relocated from his native New York to Pecos, near Santa Fe, and he would spend the autumn of his life in New Mexico.In 1992 he formed his own label Kokopelli Music as an outlet for himself and other disenfranchised jazz artists. In a significant return to form during 1995, Mann recorded the entirely jazz-based Peace Pieces in tribute to the music of Bill Evans, and celebrated his 65th birthday in grand style with a residency at the infamous Blue Note club in New York. 

Mann was diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer in 1997 and began the long battle that would eventually claim his life. He nevertheless continued writing music for his new group, Sona Terra, which finally reflected his Jewish roots and featured his younger son Geoff on drums. Possessed of a legendary energy, he concluded his working days with them. In a career spanning half a century he had recorded over 100 albums as leader. 

(Edited mainly from a Jon Lusk article @The Independent)

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Cora Lee Day born 15 April 1914


Cora Lee Day (April 15, 1914 - November 1, 1996) was a singer and actress. 

Cora Lee Day is yet another forgotten singer who has absolutely nothing regarding her biography on the internet except snippets of information, so here goes.

She was born in Florida and raised in New York . She started her career as a model (1) and ventured into the showbiz industry and was virtually unknown when she recorded "My Crying Hour" in 1960. It was the only album in her brief singing career at the age of 46, before becoming an actress. 

Cora lee Day (left) 1975
As a vocalist, she has a bit of a mix of Eartha Kitt and hints of Billie Holiday, but her voice still had that certain intangible quality that singled her out as a rare-find on the jazz scene and is sure to catch your ear. Under the direction of pianist Jimmy Jones and with a number of skilful arrangements, Cora Lee gained the drive and confidence to sing an engaging repertoire of fragile, moving songs in the manner that came most natural to her —soft and intimate. I do not know if it's true or not, but in a review on one Japanese site it stated that Cora Lee was seen by someone from Roulette at some musical event where she impersonated Billy Holiday and this led to the album. 

Between the 1960 album and the 1975 film credits I cannot find any press releases or in fact anything pertaining to Cora but it seems she became an actress late in life with TV shows which include “Hunter” and “Kojak” amongst others. Her film credits date from 1975 to 1994 and is best known for Daughters of the Dust (1991), What's Love Got to Do with It (1993) and A Worn Path (1994). 

She died on November 1, 1996 in Sarasota, Florida. 

(Sources (1) filmifeed.com. The rest is edited from liner notes by Jordi Pujol and bfi.org.uk)

I would be very grateful if anyone can add to this biography.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Bill Harris born 14 April 1925


Bill Harris (April 14, 1925 – December 6, 1988.) was an American guitarist who played R&B and jazz. 

Bill "Willie" Harris was born in Nashville, North Carolina. He had a thick background in bebop and swing guitar as well as gospel. The latter style was at his fingertips even before he discovered guitarists such as Oscar Moore on records and radio, since Harris' father was a preacher who was in the position to turn the church organist job over to his offspring. Meanwhile, Harris' mother was drumming in basic harmony and an uncle had chipped in with a guitar, apparently to be the beauty move. 

The Army supplied a bugle that temporarily halted progress with strings attached, so to speak. Harris was discharged in the mid-'40s and promptly began studying guitar in Washington, D.C., becoming fairly good with both jazz and classical pieces, yet in 1950 began playing with the R&B vocal group The Clovers due to a perceived scent of economic security. He remained with the group through 1958, playing on many of their most successful hit records. 

The choice, interestingly enough, still wound up leading to expanded musical horizons when fellow rhythm & blues and session guitarist Mickey Baker eavesdropped on a Harris dressing-room practice session and began pulling strings for what would be a series of releases under Harris' own name, such as the 1960 Great Guitar Sounds. The previous EmArcy Solo Guitar from 1956 is considered to be the first album of solo jazz guitar ever released. 


                             

He played in the D.C. area through the 1960s and 70s and also taught music, publishing several books on guitar technique. He was awarded a compositional fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1972.

For much of 1972-1973 Harris played in France. After returning to the U.S., Harris operated a restaurant and art gallery. He worked as an impresario late in life, organizing and presenting concerts in a variety of genres.

He began managing his jazz club Pigfoot in D.C., but the club was repossessed by the Internal Revenue Service in 1981 to collect back taxes. Harris and his wife Fannie lost their home in 1987 in the same dispute with the IRS. As he struggled with his finances, his friends rallied to benefit concerts to defray the cost of his medical bills. 

Bill Harris died December 6, 1988 at the Howard University Hospital, Washington D.C. of pancreatic cancer at the age of 63. 

(Edited from Wikipedia & All Music)

Below is a promotional video for bluesman Bill Harris which was produced shortly before his death. 

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Col Joye born 13 Aprtil 1936


Colin Frederick Jacobsen AM (born 13 April 1937), better known by his stage name Col Joye, is an Australian pioneer rock singer-songwriter, musician and entrepreneur (he has also recorded various other cross-over styles such as country music), with a career spanning some sixty years. 

Joye was the first Australian rock and roll singer to have a number one record Australia-wide and experienced a string of chart successes in the early Australian rock and roll scene that was emerging from the US and the United Kingdom. 

Joye started his career as a jewellery salesman, after leaving school, before performing and recording with his backing band, the KJ Quintet that would become the Joy Boys which included his brothers Kevin and Keith. Joye enjoyed a string of hits on the local and national singles charts of Australia beginning in 1959.

 Joye's first single, "Stagger Lee" was a cover of the Lloyd Price US original. However, his third single "Bye Bye Baby" reached No.3 on the Australian Kent Music Report charts in 1959, followed by "Rockin Rollin Clementine" also peaking at No. 3. His fifth single, "Oh Yeah Uh Huh", became his most successful, peaking at No. 1. He also had other charting singles, including "Yes Sir That's My Baby" peaking at No. 5 nationally. 


                              

Joye was an original member of Brian Henderson's Bandstand television program, and appeared regularly on the show for fourteen years. 'Bandstand' cast Col in the boy next door Mr. Nice Guy role, like a Pat Boone or Ricky Nelson rather than as an Elvis Presley or Jerry Lee Lewis, that position had been filled by Australia very own wild child, Johnnie O’Keefe.  

He toured Australia with fellow Bandstand acts, including Judy Stone, the De Kroo Brothers, Sandy Scott and Little Pattie. Joye's popularity levelled off after the changes to the music scene associated with the rise of the Beatles. 

After the initial rock ‘n’ roll boom died, Joye continued his success with ballads and later resurfaced as a country and MOR artist. Col Joye married Dalys Dawson in 1970 in a joint wedding ceremony with his sister Carol Jacobsen and Sandy Scott in Fiji. The wedding was quite a private ceremony and only had six people present. Col recorded consistently during the 70s and it was not until 1973 that he had another hit record, with "Heaven Is My Woman's Love" reaching No. 1 on the Go-Set charts. 

During the period between personal musical successes in the 1960s, Col and Kevin Jacobsen built an influential entertainment management, publishing and recording business, including ATA Studios in Glebe, New South Wales. This business worked with developing and promoting artists including Little Pattie, Johnny Devlin, Laurie Allen, Sandy Scott, Judy Stone and Andy Gibb. Their promotions company, Jacobsen Entertainment, continued into the 2000s, when the brothers had a falling out over money. On 8 June 1981, Col was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for his entertainment and philanthropic work he was also inducted into the Australian Music Hall of Fame in 1988.

In 1990, while pruning a neighbour's tree with a chainsaw as a favour, Joye slipped and fell six metres onto brick paving below, striking his head and falling into a coma, as well as sustaining serious lower back and shoulder injuries. Initially given a poor prognosis, he made a full recovery and made a comeback to live entertainment when he participated in the Long way to the top, national tour (2002). Col was still touring and performing well into the 2010’s but now only performs on special occasions.

 (Edited mainly from Wikipedia)