From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlanto Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.
Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s? Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?
Some answers can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.
For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz. One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical. We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it. When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.
Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.
HANK MOBLEY 80th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION NO ROOM FOR SQUARES Thursday, June 17, 2010
Born: July 7, 1930 – May 30, 1986
THE HISTORIC BOHEMIAN CAVERNS
In 1926 a little jazz club was opened in the basement of a drugstore located at 11th and U St. called Club Caverns. Eighty-Five years later the venue is the home of some of the greatest names in jazz every week. Come out and experience the "Music of Hank Mobley"
Bohemian Caverns 2001 11th St NW Washington, DC 20001 Call for Early Bird RSVP (202) 299-0800 Reservations are Recommended
Imagine listening to a seasoned jazz musician rip into a bebop solo so sizzling and smooth it makes your senses tingle. Close your eyes and play along. Try and picture the sweat bouncing off the performer like the notes that leap through the air. See if you can hear the mesmerizing melodies go up and down, bringing you through joy and sadness, taking your emotions on a sensory experience unlike any other. Now picture that musician and his beloved instrument: His voice. That's the Art of Jazz Vocalese, and that's what native D.C. son George V Johnson Jr. has been doing for over 40 years. Working as a performer, a D.C. Metrobus driver and a New Jersey train conductor at different times throughout his life, Johnson's latest work has taken the form of pedagogy. He has become a teacher and mentor to both aspiring and established vocalists from around the area, and most recently he has lent his years ofexperience and talent to AU, leading the AU jazz vocal ensemble.
By Ben Lozovsky~~~THE EAGLE - American University
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Saxophonist Robert “Bootsie” Barnes has been proclaimed a Philadelphia treasure. His celebrity should rank along with Tasty Kakes and Philly Cheese Steaks. A very close friend of Hank Mobley...
NO ROOM FOR SQUARES by Hank Mobley
Bootsie Barnes, Tenor Sax John Swana, Trumpet Clifford Adams, Trombone, Farid Barron, Piano, Darryl Hall, Bass, Craig McIver Drums Philadelphia's finest blowing in New York City
“Bootsie” began his musical career at age 6 on piano and switched to drums at 10. His grandmother gave him a saxophone at age 16 and he never looked back.
In school, classmates included drummer Lex Humphries, Bill Cosby, Al “Tootie” Heath; bassist “Spanky” DeBreast;
tumpeter Lee Morgan, and a host of Philadelphia giants who went on to help shape the maturing face of Jazz music. He was among Philadelphia’s most called upon saxophonists. During the ‘60’s and 70’s he was playing with such legends as Don Patterson, Philly Joe Jones, and the late Al Grey.
He has led touring ensembles for his childhood buddy, Bill Cosby, and made a guest appearance on television’s The Cosby Show (playing himself) and his character is potrayed in Fat Albert -Bootsie has also worked the entire “Organ Circuit” with Shirley Scott, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Jack McDuff, Poppa John & Joey DeFrancesco, and the undisputed champion of the organ, Jimmy Smith.
"NO ROOM FOR SQUARES" The Hit Squad #1 Bootsie Barnes-s, George V Johnson Jr-v, Gregory McDonald-d, Derrick Hodge-b @ The Tony Williams Jazz Festival 2003
Although Mister Barnes toured the U.S., Europe and Canada, he makes his home in Philadelphia. At home, the new “Young Lions” of jazz regard him as their “Mentor Emeritus”. He is also held in high esteem by his “elder statesmen of Jazz” in Philly and around the world.
Ciacca began his career as a sideman for such acclaimed jazz artists as Art Farmer, James Moody, Lee Konitz, Jonny Griffin, Mark Murphy, Dave Liebman, and Steve Grossman, who he cites as his mentor, and with whom he studied for three years beginning in 1990. In 1993, he visited Detroit to attend a master class at Wayne State University with Kenny Barron and meet musicians, after which he studied privately with Mingus’ pianist Jackie Byard in New York. While living in Detroit, he was first exposed to gospel music, which so impressed him with its passion and energy that he soon integrated it into his own developing style as a composer and performer; he eventually went on to produce a CD for the Detroit Gospel Singers.
One of the most important events in Ciacca’s career was an invitation to join the legendary saxophonist Steve Lacy’s quartet in 1997; he continued to perform with
Lacy for seven years. Another key encounter that would have long
and professional repercussions for Ciacca took place in 1997. “Wynton Marsalis was performing in Italy with Elvin Jones, who is my son’s godfather. I’d first seen him at the Bologna Jazz Festival in 1989, and he really first opened my eyes to jazz then. But when I first saw him, I had no idea we’d ever work together.” Ciacca first performed with Wynton in Wess Anderson sextet at New York’s VillageVanguard in 2004. In 1998 he also began to perform with saxophonist Benny Golson, with whom he continues to collaborate.
In 1995, Ciacca recorded his first CD as a leader, Driemoty, which was released on the label C-Jam. In 1999 he recorded in New York City Hollis Avenue for the German label YVP. In 2002, he recorded Autumn in New York for the Italian label Splash. Read more...
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Born in 1940 in Farrell, Pennsylvania, Steve started playing Yugoslav folk songs on the piano with his grandfather when he was 11 years old. At 13 he started studying trumpet, inspired by listening to Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Max Roach and Horace Silver. As soon as he was out of high school, he went to New York to study trumpet.
He spent three years in New York, listening almost every night to the jazz giants of the late fifties. By the time he was 20, his trumpet playing was good enough to get him into the U.S. Army Band, so he came to Washington in 1961 for three years of service. There he began his love affair with the bass, moonlighting steadily as a bassist in the fertile DC jazz club scene. Steve’s mentor was Charlie “Bird” Hampton, then and now one of Washington’s great jazz saxophonists.
Andrew White - Satellite 1975.11.16
From his first touring and recording gig with the Trio ESP, Steve moved up rapidly in the world of jazz bassists, playing and recording with Andrew White, Roland Kirk, Stanley Cowell, David “Fathead” Newman and Eddie Harris. Other jazz greats he has performed with since include Cedar Walton, McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones, Milt Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Sonny Rollins, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Harry “Sweets” Edison, James Moody, Archie Shepp and Blue Mitchell. Steve is also in great demand as an accompanist for singers; he has played with everyone from Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams and Donny Hathaway to Anita O’Day, Roberta Flack, Betty Carter and Shirley Horn. He accompanies Shirley on several of her Verve releases.
Tal Farlow, Red Norvo & Steve Novosel - All of Me
Steve has toured with Red Norvo, Tal Farlow, Al Grey and most recently, with David “Fathead” Newman. In addition to his previous 57 recordings, he has several on Mapleshade including Portraits in Ivory and Brass with Jack Walrath and Larry Willis (Mapleshade #02032) and Every Rung Goes Higher Mapleshade #08232) with Willis and Steve Berrios plus singer Kenyetta.
Drummer and Composer Nasar Abadey is the founder, leader and driving force of SUPERNOVA®. His debut CD, Mirage was released in 2000 on the Amosaya Record Label, and a follow-up CD is planned to be released later this year (2006). He has performed with Amiri Baraka, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Rouse, Gary Bartz, David Sanchez, Cyrus Chestnut, Sonny Fortune, Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, Kenny Kirkland, Gary Thomas, Stanley Turrentine, Sun Ra, Frank Morgan, Bobby Hutcherson, Pharaoh Sanders, Malachi Thompson and many others. Additionally, he has appeared in various festivals including, San Remo (Italy), Montreal (Canada), Cap City (DC), Virgin Island (Caribbean), JVC (NYC), Morocco (Africa), Chicago Jazz Festival, Iowa City Jazz Festival, D.C. Loft Jazz Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Mellon Bank Jazz Festival, (Philadelphia), The East Coast Jazz Festival, the Free World Jazz Festival (DC), International Children's Festival (Seattle), Guatemala City Jazz Festival, and many more...
For the past 7 years Johnson has been refining his lyrics to the music of jazz legend and saxophonist Hank Mobley. Since taking on the project Johnson has skillfully, completed over 40 of Mobley’s classic ompositions and still counting. Some with complete solo’s. Critics are already saying this is one of the most important and extensive projects to be presented to the public from the Art of Jazz Vocalese realm in many, many years.
1ST Annual Trenton Jazz Summit 'REMEMBERING HANK MOBLEY' Produced byGeorge V Johnson Jr The TRENTONIAN NEWS www.trentonian.com Top Stories PETE DALY, Staff Writer The Trentonian - News - 09/19/2004 - Unlikely spot for fans of cool...
TRENTON -- Jazz enthusiasts were treated to a swinging good time last night at an unlikely jazz hot spot, the Amber Cafe in the heart of the city’s Polish neighborhood.
The cafe’s dimly lit, elegant decor was perfectly complimented by the soothing jazz tunes of George V. Johnson Jr and a crew of jazz virtuosos at the restaurant’s first Trenton Jazz Summit.
"It’s very calming, and very elegant. The music is a perfect blend (for the restaurant)," said Anna Sypniewski, who owns and operates the year-old Amber Cafe on Brunswick Avenue with her husband, Janusz.
Johnson crooned original lyrics to more than 25 melodious compositions of the late jazz great Hank Mobley in front of a sold-out crowd at 8 p.m. and a large 6 p.m. audience.
Johnson’s velvety voice blanketed the sounds of veteran jazz artists Bootsie Barnes on the tenor sax, Grammy award-winning arranger Don Sickler on trumpet, Sid Simmons on piano, James King on the bass and Ronnie Burrage on drums.
Barnes is a master saxophonist from Philadelphia and a close friend of the late Mobley, widely considered to be one of the greatest American jazz artists.
Sickler, also a friend of Mobley’s, has won several Grammy awards for his arranging, most recently for his work on the last album by the late John Henderson, "Lush Life."
Simmons is a Philadelphia native best known for his performances with jazz great Grover Washington. King and Burrage have played with numerous acts since the 1970s.
"I think it’s great," said Louis Sample, 64, a Ewing resident who has been a jazz fan since childhood. "It’s beautiful. Jazz is the one thing we lack here. There are other acts at KatManDu and Perry’s (on North Olden Avenue), but there’s nothing like this. I’m glad I came to check it out."
Johnson said although people might think the newly-opened Amber Cafe is not a typical jazz establishment, he and his band jumped at the idea.
"It’s perfect because we’re taking this national treasure to this atmosphere to be enjoyed by all races," Johnson said. "Jazz is a universal language." He said he hopes other Trenton establishments catch on to hosting jazz acts.
"People are starving for it," Johnson said. "Jazz is the original art form in America."
Everyone should experience this.See what the buzz is all about. Join in the fun and bring the music of Hank Mobley to your city today. It’s Jazzically Delicious!
Don Sickler, Frank Wess & George V Johnson Jr 2003 -
Six Day Hank Mobley Jazz Festival @ Jazz Standard
Available for Bookings: Tours, festivals, concerts and recordings. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lyrics by George V Johnson Jr.
Lyrics by GVJ: Hank's Symphony, This I Dig of You, Soul Station (complete solo), No Room For Squares, East of The Village, Take Your Pick, Three Way Split, Up A Step, Work Out, The Baptist Beat, My Groove Your Move, The Morning After, Soft Impressions, Hank’s Waltz, Chain Reaction, Roll Call, Syrup & Biscuits, Snappin Out, Looking East, Cute N’ Pretty, Third Time Around, Infra Rae, The Feelings Good, Comin’ Back, Uh Huh, Dig Dis, Up Over and Out, Bossa For Baby, Split Feelings, Ballin, Madeline, No More Goodbyes, The Break Through, Hank’s Other Bag, Straight No Filter, Caddy for Daddy and more....
They contrasted with the classical pretensions of cool jazz, with Mobley's rich lyricism being bluesier, alongside the funky approach of Horace Silver. When The Jazz Messengers split in 1956, Mobley continued on with pianist Horace Silver for a short time, although he did work again with Blakey some years later, when the drummer appeared on Mobley's albums in the early 60s.
During the early 70'sGeorge V., attended the weekly jazz workshops conducted by pianist John Malachi held at the PigFoot, a jazz club that was located in N.E., Washington DC owned and operated by guitarist Bill Harris. On one occasion he met his childhood idol Eddie Jefferson, lyricist, hoofer and innovator, who pioneered the Art of Jazz Vocalese” (writing lyrics to improvised horn solos). He was first exposed Jefferson's music and started singing them fluently around the house as a child. After this important meeting George studied, traveled and sang duets with the vocalese master, giving him the opportunity to learn many valuable lessons on and off stage until his untimely death.Johnson is considered by many as “Heir Apparent” to Jefferson’s innovation and is one of the foremost practitioners of the vocalese style on the Jazz scene today.
"SASSY" Sarah Vaughn. The nick name given to her by John Malachi
John Malachi was a member of the classic Billy Eckstine Bebop Orchestra from 1944-45, contributing both piano solos and advanced arrangements.
John was a regular at the Caverns and was the house band. His group then was Tommy Potter and Roy Haynes
"Your Majesty" George V Johnson Jr., the nick name given to him by John Malachi.
At the PIGFOOT in 1975 owned and operated by Bill & Fannie Harris
. John opened each set with his original composition and theme song called "Your Majesty". It was actually composed for Charlie Parker because he felt 'Bird' was the most innovative musician in the world. Malachi presented George at his OPENING NIGHT for his first professional engagement at Mr. Macks a club in S.W. Washington. He introduced him to the audience as "Your Majesty" George V Johnson Jr for the next 10 years.
Johnson recalls....I kept telling John about this song that me and a friend Wayne Prentice composed and needed a chart so it could be presented during the opening night of the gig. John invited me over the house and said okay, hum me the melody. In about one hour it was finished. Afterwards, John said what do you want to call it. I said we hadn't named it yet. He said well call it Opening Night!
Below is a YouTube version with Larry Ridley and Jazz Legacy Ensemble.
OPENING NIGHT PART I
OPENING NIGHT PART II
TheMALACHILetters Click to enlarge
Photo by William Brower
Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to the late great JOHN MALACHI @ Jimmy McPhails Club on Bladensburg Road N.E. during the late 70's.
With Vocalese, still in a state of infancy, Johnson has almost single handedly kept the Art of Jazz Vocalese dream alive as exemplified from his performances presenting the Music of Hank Mobley. A feat unmatched by any of his peers in jazz music. His lyrics are well rounded, beautifully written and a classic work of art.