Who was Stan Freeman? Last weekend, I posted a clip of the pianist playing Perdido on harpsichord. Most jazz fans know Freeman [pictured] best as the pianist who takes a short, lush solo on Charlie Parker's strings recording of Just Friends. But just who was he? Terry Teachout sent along this YouTube clip that answers that question...
Paul Smith [pictured above], who died last week, was the George Shearing of the West Coast. If you missed my appreciation and audio clips on Friday, go here.
Kennedy Center Honors. Let's add Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland [pictured above, in same order] to the list of those worthy of being honored this fall by the Kennedy Center—along with Mike Stoller, Al Green, Nancy Wilson, Ron Isley and Horace Silver. A list in progress, to be sure.
Tessa Souter. Congrats to the superb vocalist (Beyond the Blue) who is named a rising star by the Down Beat Critics Poll in the August issue.
Cedar Walton radio. My boy "Symphony Sid" Gribetz will present a special five-hour radio broadcast saluting hard bop pianist Cedar Walton on “Jazz Profiles” this Sunday, July 7, from 2-7 p.m. on WKCR-New York. Listen in on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here.
Jazz radio on the web. Long-time JazzWax reader Kurt Kolstad passed along his favorite jazz radio station on the Internet: The Jazz Knob, hosted by Ken Borgers, a long-time Los Angeles radio DJ. Go here.
Albert Stinson remembered. Saxophonist, composer-arranger and JazzWax reader Bill Kirchner sent along a link to a YouTube clip featuring the late bassist Stinson at age 19. Stinson died at age 24 of an overdose. As Bill rightfully notes, Stinson is a forgotten great...
"Your post asks what happened to jazz guitarist John Gray? The more specific question was what happened to Gray between 1968 and the late 1970’s? I met John in Florida in 1973. He and a female vocalist were a duo playing a supper club down the street from where my Chicago-based show band was performing. As our month-long engagement was ending, our guitarist informed us he was leaving. John Gray talked the supper club owner where he was playing into hiring my band into his club with him playing guitar. I played electric bass and did lead vocal.
"As we got to know John, he told us of his years playing with various musicians and artists in California. He also confided to us about his fierce battle with severe alcoholism. He said he could never overcome his alcoholism while still regularly playing in California with his fellow musicians, since many suffered from the same addiction. He made a hard life-and-death choice to move to the other end of the country.
"John was very active in Alcoholics Anonymous in Florida and was helping others who suffered as he had. During the period I worked with him, he remained sober. After working with him for two very enjoyable months, I had to return to Chicago for personal reasons. A couple of my band members stayed and worked with John in Florida for an extended period—a result of their appreciation of his incredible talent.
"I was saddened to learn from them that he had a very debilitating stroke that took away his ability to play guitar. That is the worst thing that I can imagine happening to John Gray. I am guessing that would have happened around 1974 or '75. Bill Cook posted on JazzWax.com that John then went back to his home town of Pryor, Okla. following the stroke. But, the stroke did not happen at the “height of his career,” as stated. Bill also mentioned that John passed away then in the early 1980’s.
"I played with quite a number of musicians in the 40 years I was active, but John Gray was without a doubt the very best."
CD discoveries of the week. Too many for the weekend. I'll post a round-up of the new CDs I have enjoyed over the past few weeks in the coming days.
Oddball album cover of the week.