Jazz at 100 Hour 65: Hard Bop Trumpet, Part 2

Dizzy Reece

This is the final hour of a four-part sequence featuring important tenor players and trumpeters who propelled hard bop into the 1960s. In this hour, we will continue with the Trumpet Players, Part 2, featuring lesser-known players – unsung veteran Kenny Dorham who recorded with both Dizzy and Bird in the 1940s, London-based Jamaican trumpet player Dizzy Reece, and Blue Mitchell who got his start with Cannonball Adderley and had a long tenure in the Horace Silver Quintet in the early 1960s.

Kenny Dorham.
“[Kenny] Dorham was never a killer technically in the manner of Dizzy Gillespie or Clifford Brown. But along with Miles Davis and Art Farmer, he had helped define an area of melodic invention and tonal nuance that greatly broadened the trumpet’s range of expression. [In 1963 – 1964] He … teamed up with Joe Henderson for a series of [five] records, some under his own name and others under Henderson’s, that reflected his openness. As he put it: ‘If you keep on living, you have to keep on growing. That is, if you keep your feelings and your ears open.’ Dorham had clearly remained responsive to new sounds, and his compositions on these discs used changing tempos and unusual bar structures and chord sequences.” – David Rosenthal

“The session for Una Mas on 1 April, 1963 was Joe Henderson’s first ever record date. Dorham had taken the saxophonist under his wing, and Henderson remained a staunch admirer when I spoke to him about his big band album in 1996, a project which had its roots in a rehearsal band he co-led with Dorham three decades earlier. Henderson acknowledged the trumpeter’s role in his own development, placing him alongside Horace Silver and Miles Davis in that regard, and added that ‘Kenny was one of the most important creators around, and yet you hardly ever hear his name anymore’. The quintet also featured Herbie Hancock on piano, Butch Warren on bass, and drummer Tony Williams, in a solid session which contained three original tunes by Dorham, the Brazilian influenced ‘Una Mas’ and ‘Sao Paulo’ and the more boppish ‘Straight Ahead’, as well as a tender evocation of Lerner-Loewe’s ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’.” – Kenny Mathieson

Straight Ahead. Kenny Dorham Quintet
(Kenny Dorham-tp, Joe Henderson-ts, Herbie Hancock-p, Butch Warren-b, Tony Williams-d. From Una Mas. 4/1/1963
Composed by Kenny Dorham

Sao Paolo. Kenny Dorham Quintet
(Kenny Dorham-tp, Joe Henderson-ts, Herbie Hancock-p, Butch Warren-b, Tony Williams-d. From Una Mas. 4/1/1963
Composed by Kenny Dorham

Dizzy Reece.
“[The 1962 LP Asia Minor was Dizzy Reece’s] most successful record … and its quality is given added lustre by being his last session as leader until 1970, after which his studio appearances tailed off further. Reece was (is) a man of considerable integrity, to the point of stubbornness. Unswayed by fashion or ideology, he insisted on playing as he pleased rather than following anyone else’s lead. On Asia Minor that was still a virtue, but it’s a record that is already suffused with a certain indefinable sadness, as if autumn is coming on. Given that Reece was only 31, it was a prematurely elegiac stance but it certainly isn’t the result of backward projection. It’s a genuine quality of the music. ‘Yamask’ and ‘Ackmet’ reflect an interest in African and Levantine music, and while they’re not particularly advanced lines they do anticipate what some more heralded Blue Note stars were doing with greater fanfare a few years later… [baritone saxophonist Cecil] Payne contributes a line dedicated to Charlie Parker… The marvellous band is a trump card. [Flautist/tenor player Joe] Farrell was just beginning to explore the kind of quartal harmony that became a calling card in an all too brief career. Payne gives the sound a lot of weight (and it often sounds like a larger outfit), but it’s Dizzy’s clarion delivery and simply, unaffected approach to the harmony that make it memorable, a clear case of less is more.” – Brian Morton & Richard Cook

Yamask. Dizzy Reece Sextet
(Dizzy Reece-tp, Joe Farrell-ts/fl, Cecil Payne-bs, Hank Jones-p, Ron Carter-b, Charlie Persip-d). From Asia Minor. 3/13/1962
Composed by Dizzy Reece

Ackmet. Dizzy Reece Sextet
(Dizzy Reece-tp, Joe Farrell-ts/fl, Cecil Payne-bs, Hank Jones-p, Ron Carter-b, Charlie Persip-d). From Asia Minor. 3/13/1962
Composed by Dizzy Reece

Spiritus Parkus (Parker’s Spiritus). Dizzy Reece Sextet
(Dizzy Reece-tp, Joe Farrell-ts/fl, Cecil Payne-bs, Hank Jones-p, Ron Carter-b, Charlie Persip-d). From Asia Minor. 3/13/1962
Composed by Cecil Payne

Blue Mitchell.
[When Blue Mitchell went] to the studio [in 1964], he had more or less inherited the [Horace] Silver group, which the pianist had disbanded in March, 1964… [He brought] in young pianist Chick Corea and drummer Al Foster, both at the outset of their studio careers, to join [tenor saxophonist Junior] Cook and [bassist Gene] Taylor. That personnel appeared on two sessions … released as The Thing To Do and Down With It! respectively. These are … characteristic Blue Note sessions of the day, mixing stabs at a hit tune – it wasn’t only Lee Morgan who was looking for another ‘Sidewinder’ – through funky groovers like … Mitchell’s infectious ‘Funghi Mama’ … with the usual concoction of bop and blues originals (notable contributors of material included Jimmy Heath, Sonny Red, Chick Corea, and Melba Liston), Latin tunes, standards and ballads. The performances are never less than enjoyable, with Mitchell again underlining the sheer consistency of his playing, while the youthful Corea is already full of good ideas. The trumpeter’s warmth and overtly lyrical approach is emphasised on commanding ballad performances like … Jimmy Heath’s elegant ‘Mona’s Mood’…” – Kenny Mathieson

Fungii Mama. Blue Mitchell Quintet
(Blue Mitchell-tp, Junior Cook-ts, Chick Corea-p, Gene Taylor-b, Al Foster-d). From The Thing To Do. 7/30/1964
Composed by Blue Mitchell

Mona’s Mood. Blue Mitchell Quintet
(Blue Mitchell-tp, Junior Cook-ts, Chick Corea-p, Gene Taylor-b, Al Foster-d). From The Thing To Do. 7/30/1964
Composed by Jimmy Heath

Given the depth and breadth of his output and the quality of his playing, Kenny Dorham’s relative obscurity is baffling. His career was cut short by kidney disease and he died in 1972. Dizzy Reece’s Blue Note records were rereleased in 2004, but, although he is still playing, the anticipated renewal of interest in his work never occurred. Blue Mitchell continued to record solid work with well-known players until his death from cancer in 1979. None of these first-rate players achieved the notoriety and reputation of the better known hard-bop trumpet players – Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard or Donald Byrd and that’s a shame.

In the mid-1960s, many musicians were building on the innovations of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane, creating a new approach to jazz – Free Jazz (after Coleman’s 1960 release of the same name) or, simply, the avant-garde. For solidarity in the face of limited venues for performance and indifferent audiences, creative musicians in Chicago banded together to found the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians or AACM in 1965. Early music from AACM in the next hour of Jazz at 100.

Recordings.
Kenny Dorham. Una Mas. Blue Note BLP 4127
Dizzy Reece. Asia Minor. New Jazz NJLP 8274
Blue Mitchell. The Thing To Do. Blue Note BLP 4178

Resources.
Mathieson, Kenny. 2002. Cookin’: Hard Bop and Soul Jazz 1954-65. Canongate Books.
Kenny Dorham / Howard McGhee
Donald Byrd / Blue Mitchell / Booker Little
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
Dizzy Reece. Asia Minor
Blue Mitchell. The Thing To Do
Rosenthal, David. 1992. Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music, 1955-1965. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 9. Changes

Annotated playlists and streaming links for all the Jazz at 100 broadcasts: Jazz at 100

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