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Entries in Jam Sessions (7)

11:57AM

"MEMORIES OF A FAMED PHILADELPHIA LANDMARK"

During the mid 1950s, joining Local-77 American Federation of Musicians was a customary option for young musicians in order to obtain playing jobs within the Delaware Valley vicinity.

Being part of the AFM signified that you were able to be part of a professional group of working musicians in the Philadelphia area.

With this in mind, having a union card gave us access to Rehearsal Halls, Dining Area, plus a Bulletin Board of upcoming events to attend, and most of all: a meeting place for other musicians to congregate and share their experiences.

 As a new member of Local 77, I was introduced to Charles “Chick” Musumeci who was the President of the Philadelphia branch office at that time. On various occasions, he would spend some time with new members introducing them to the older members who were working with the Philadelphia Orchestra and other jazz musicians from the area.

It was during this time, my own personal experience as young musician, I had the opportunity to meet saxophonist Charlie Ventura plus other musicians just playing & jamming in a relaxed atmosphere, they were all enjoying each other playing solos and creating their jazz improvisations.

Since George Sarkis’ repair shop was located in the next building within a short walking distance, George would often stop-by for lunch on different days and spend time with many prominent musicians such as Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Julian Cannonball Adderley, Buddy DeFranco, Ray Hyman and others that were traveling to the city of Philadelphia.

My colleague Stan Ross forwarded his personal photo collection - showing the entire city block demolition of Local-77 Musicians Union building and George Sarkis’ shop.

Unfortunately, the recollections of that time are only memoirs for the both of us, plus everyone else that was lucky to experience the early years of Local 77 AFM located at 118 North 18th Street in Center City Philadelphia, PA

 

2:45AM

CLEF NOTE - "SPOTLIGHTS" - Vol. #4

 Searching through our Mr. Nick’s archive collection of memorabilia, this interesting piece of information was brought to our attention.  My friend and colleague Larry Bennett often spoke about his working association with his friend Joe Glaser owner of ASSOCIATED BOOKING CORPORATION (ABC), which represented Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and many top Jazz artists through the past decades.  

 

– One time a while ago, Larry also mentioned that he had a conversation with Horace Silver regarding a popular jazz standard tune named “The Preacher” that he wrote while he was with the Jazz Messengers. Horace Silver explained that it was written with the basic chord structure of a popular folk song called “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” which was written as far back as 1925 by a British songwriting team of James Campbell and Reginald Connelly.
During the late 1950s, Horace Silver recorded “The Preacher” for Blue Note Records. It became one of the biggest hits for the Blue Note label. 
Alfred Lion, owner of Blue Note was reluctant to record the song.  Since then “The Preacher” has been used as sound tracks for many films and other productions.  

 

Searching through our Mr. Nick’s archive collection of memorabilia, this interesting piece of information was brought to our attention.  My friend and colleague Larry Bennett often spoke about his working association with his friend Joe Glaser owner of ASSOCIATED BOOKING CORPORATION (ABC), which represented Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and many top Jazz artists through the past decades. (Jazz Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow) – One time . . .a while ago, Larry also mentioned that he had a conversation with Horace Silver regarding a popular jazz standard tune named “The Preacher” that he wrote while he was with the Jazz Messengers. Horace Silver explained that it was written with the basic chord structure of a popular folk song called “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” which was written as far back as 1925 by a British songwriting team of James Campbell and Reginald Connelly. During the late 1950s, Horace Silver recorded “The Preacher” for Blue Note Records. It became one of the biggest hits for the Blue Note label. Alfred Lion, owner of Blue Note was reluctant to record the song.  Since then “The Preacher” has been used as sound tracks for many films and other productions.  

Stan Ross

 

 In Mr. Nick’s archive collection, I have found a live recording date of “The Preacher”  (audio) played by The Stan Ross Quartet during the 1970s. Hope you enjoy this short segment of the masterful approach and sound from Stan Ross on tenor saxophone.

 

 

1:10PM

CLEF NOTE - "SPOTLIGHTS" - Vol. #3

Tenor Sax & Organ Trios:
  In the 1990s, where improvised music seems to be the norm, the classic sound of the tenor sax and organ jazz combos seem to be a thing of the past. For the moment let us take a trip back to the 1950s, '60s, and '70s to revisit the popular jazz artists of those times.
Beginning in the 1950s, Duke Ellington, Benny Carter and Stan Kenton represented the refinement and gentlemen's approach to jazz. Count Basie, Lionel Hampton and Woody Herman were swingin' their bands cross-country in ballrooms, concert halls, and supper clubs to sold-out audiences. A number of musicians who were sidemen in many of these well known big bands branched off, became leaders of their own small combos, and explored definite musical styles of their own. Many of these combos consisted of only 3, 4, 5, or six men and utilized a piano rhythm section with a tenor sax or trumpet lead.
Until these smaller groups became popular, the Hammond B-3 organ played a very small part as a basic ingredient to swingin' jazz. A virtual unknown, Les Strand, pioneered playing Be-Bop on the instrument, as far back as the early 1940s, and recorded several albums for the Fantasy label in the 1950s.
The organ trio, quartet or quintets consisting of organ, tenor sax, drums, guitar and trumpet would make economic sense for small club owners. The versatility of the B-3 organ foot pedals meant that a bass player would not need to be hired. This eliminated the extra cost of another musician.
The mid-1950s through the early 1970s saw the emergence of smaller jazz nightclubs that were able too showcase many musicians in one night. Many primarily hired the groups that used the B-3 organ.
These places could accommodate approximately 75-200 people who sat around an oval bar or in nearby booths and tables enjoying the music that was performed. The music played, was not the traditional jazz of earlier years. Some jazz aficionados and critics might even have deemed it rhythm & blues, meaning it was uncreative and the musical talents were limited.
**** Let us not forget . . .
however, some of the musicians and performers that held reign at these smaller clubs and played "down-home" crowd-pleasing music, went on to become prominent jazz artists and poll winners of the future. In some cases, their names and musical accomplishments went together like bacon and eggs.
Unlike the West Coast cool-jazz scene and progressive music that was making its debut during the late fifties, these smaller clubs that featured these types of small combos were known as the "Chitlins Circuit."

 

 They featured Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Stanley Turrentine, ShirleyScott, Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Smith, Horace Silver, Doc Bagby, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, Brother Jack McDuff, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Bill Doggett featuring sax man Clifford Scott plus vocalists Dinah Washington, Gloria Lynne, Arthur Prysock and Joe Williams.

As the organ combos gained popularity during the late fifties many record labels took notice of how much their audiences were enjoying this type of sound. Prestige Records, Atlantic, Okeh, Chess, and King Records, among others, recorded and distributed the singles, albums and recorded music catalogs of the above artists and their funky, houserockin' rhythm & blues 

5:52AM

CLEF NOTE: - "SPOTLIGHTS - Vol. #2"  

                                      In a recent Skype conversation I had with my friend Stan Ross 

. . .We often talked about and reflected upon his close friend’s
  saxophonist Buddy Savitt and jazz guitarist Dennis Sandole
DENNIS SANDOLE  
BUDDY SAVITTSince I had the opportunity in meeting Buddy Savitt at one time               or another, ironically,   Buddy happened to be a related cousin to John & Evelyn Fiedler  (aka. Johnny Saint and his wife Evelyn)
Johnny Saint was my close friend and the leader\drummer of a popular recording vocal & instrumental group called "THE UNIQUE JOYRIDERS" which toured internationally during the 1960s & 1970s.
During this time, I had the opportunity to share the bandstand as a member of the unit replacing the vacant spot when the very talented saxophonist and friend Bobby Borda who was in the process of forming his Top-40 combo to travel the entertainment circuit on the East Coast. 
Stan Ross, Johnny Saint and I talked about Buddy Savitt and the many popular recordings of Cameo/Parkway Records. As a sideman, Buddy’s tenor sax solos on a majority of the top singles highlighted eachClick For Sample Billboard Chart hit recordings that included Chubby Checker, Dee Dee Sharp, Bobby Rydell and many other hit recordings of the era.   
   - The friendship between Stan Ross, Buddy Savitt and Dennis Sandole through the years was a special sharing of inspiration, Jazz techniques and musical knowledge always remembered. -
South Philadelphia, also known as "South Philly" . . . is a small community of various ethnic groups. In the past from this area, many singers, performers, actors, comedians and jazz musicians have emerged. Because this area being a close-knit community, neighbors living on the same block and even from surrounding areas would often stop by during a rehearsal to encourage the young musicians and performers to follow their ambitions. Tenor saxophonist Charlie Ventura, jazz violinist Joe Venuti, his cousin guitarist Joe Sgro, clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, guitarist Eddie Lang, trombonist Willie Dennis who later married singer\actress Morgana King, pianist Elliot Lawrence plus many vocalists including jazz pianist Buddy Greco and many others all have a part of the      
                              "South Philly" environment ingrained in their warm character and personality. 
Click for SampleA family relative Cousin of mine, was guitarist Joe Morabito; we also, often spokeJOE SGRO about two of his friends from the same South Philadelphia neighborhood. Jazz guitarists Dennis Sandole and Joe Sgro both known for their musical teaching techniques for the guitar and Jazz improvisation.
Joe Morabito and his brother Rocco formed a popular commercial five-piece combo named “THE TOWNSMEN” which featured many vocal & instrumental renditions of top songs that were favorites of their large following within the Delaware Valley area. Members of this unit were Anthony (Corkey) Borasso-bass Joe Gilletta-drums Rocco Morabito-keyboard plus . . .Joe Sgro’s Brother Pat Sgro guitarist & arranger
              for all their musical compositions.
               Also saxophonist Joe Rotelle would appear on many occasions.
 
There were many times, that musicians and vocalists would stop-by to sit-in and join a late night jam session. The discussions after hours at the club or at the all-night Melrose Diner would continue to early daylight and reflect upon the many experiences each shared in the music business.  The nightclubs in the South Philly & Center City area such as; The Venus Lounge, Palumbos Restaurant, Broadway Theatrical Lounge, Latin Casino, Club 13 were the places where musicians would congregate.  In addition, many of the South Jersey venues there was – The Dreamland Club, Loretta’s Hi-Hat, Whipppoorwill Club, and Wilcox’s Cafe all located within “The Lawnside Music District” on Rt.30 White Horse Pike.  The Cherry Hill area on Rt. 70 was another entertainment section of venues, LaMania’s Cocktail Lounge was next door to The Latin Casino Theater.  A short driving distance Andy’s Log Cabin Restaurant and The Honey Dew Club were some of the places . . . that it was possible; where on a nightly basis you were able to experience a line-up of many Jazz musicians that included Joe Fortunato, Larry McKenna, Johnny Belmont , Henry Ceccola, Red Rodney, Charlie Ventura and his brother Benny plus Buddy Savitt. These jam sessions lasted until the closing hour of 3:00am in the morning.  
Stan Ross has given me the opportunity to share some brief unforgettable nostalgic moments from his career and personal memorabilia archives of a jazz musician.

 

8:55PM

CLEF NOTE: - "SPOTLIGHTS - Vol. #1"

During the early decades of jazz it was a customary procedure for jazz musicians to compose an original jazz tune or melody that was based on segments of their ad-lib solos utilizing the chord progressions of popular standard songs that were on the Hit Parade during that period of time.

 

**** Many of these original compositions have become future JAZZ standard tunes

which are often played by Jazz musicians worldwide.