Interview: Anthony Ortega (Part 1) - JazzWax

« Interview: Sheila Jordan (Part 3) | Main | Interview: Anthony Ortega (Part 2) »

January 10, 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


That session with Gigi Gryce may be the one that got him fired (according to Randi Hulten) from Lionel Hampton's band. Hampton didn't approve of his sidemen doing outside recording sessions and also threatened to fire Clifford Brown among others. "Bum's Rush" is a Quincy Jones composition, but who's the alto soloist? According to Cohen & Fitzgerald's Gigi Gryce biography, it's Gigi. They do credit Ortega as the alto soloist on "Keeping Up With Jonesy."

Rab Hines

Wow! I've been hoping Mr. Ortega would make an appearance here, but a full interview was more than I'd hoped for.

I believe I have most or all of the things he put out, but I (and I suspect others) came to him from the latter part of his career through his HatHut productions, and moving back to his Jazz For Young Moderns.

Sonny Stitt - Plays Arrangements From The Pen Of Quincy Jones, Gerald Wilson - Love You Madly, and the Pat Moran efforts are also worth checking out.

A consistently engaging musician - and where else but Jazzwax would you be able to appreciate him in his own words?

Many thanks.

Kim Ortega Backus

Really nice article and great pictures! My dad looks so young in those pictures! I am Anthony Ortega's oldest daughter, Kim. My dad just called me to let me know about the article. I am looking forward to part 2 and 3 also!
Kim Ortega Backus


Hi David --

It's certainly Gigi soloing here, 'cause it's clearly his sound: Slightly too high, and some kind of a cool-down-Bird tone.

There weren't many possibilities for young alto players those days: Did they rather wanted to sound like a plain Bird-alike, or were they even forced to switch to tenor, as Sonny Stitt did it for a while?

Gigi went in both directions, not by playing tenor, but by merging the so called cool school with bebop.

Here's a link to his online discography:

According to this discography, Gigi Gryce is soloing on all tracks at this particular session, Paris, on October 9, 1953.

I have some of the Clifford-Brown-in-Paris stuff, the C-B-Memorial Album, Vol. 3, and there is fortunately "Keeping Up With Jonesy" where Anthony Ortega is indeed the soloist.

Solo order:

Clifford Brown - Art Farmer (little dialogue) - Jimmy Cleveland - Anthony Ortega - Clifford Solomon.

John Stephens

Hello Tony! Man, it's great to hear, read more about wonderful happenings during your career...Love to see, talk with you! Hope you're doing good, this beginning of "Our New Year". Also, the best to JazzWax! JOHN STEPHENS

Allen Lowe

that is NOT Gigi; Ortega was a far more advanced soloists; the tone and approach sounds nothing like Gryce.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
Marc Myers2 2021 (c)by Alyse Myers

Contact me


Click the covers to order...

Subscribe Free

Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Search JazzWax

  • JazzWax

JazzWax Interviewed

JazzWax Interviews

Audio Note

  • Audio clips that appear below JazzWax posts support editorial content that links readers directly to Amazon and other third-party music retailers.

Marc Myers: Liner Notes


Marc Myers on Video

JATP Programs