Tune in to the Jazz Show with Gavin Walker every Monday night,
This month’s focus will be on major voices of the trumpet that have been overlooked or underappreciated. We put the spotlight on alto saxophone players last month but the trumpet will be front and center this month. We begin with trumpeter Wilbur Harden. Mr. Harden made some significant recordings in the late 50s but due to a serious illness he was forced to cease playing and died in New York at age 45 in 1969. Harden’s recorded legacy is small as he stopped performing in 1961 due to his illness. Harden was highly respected and recorded with major artists like John Coltrane and Yusef Lateef. He played the flugelhorn which is a mellower and more full bodied sounding trumpet. Tonight The Jazz Feature focuses on a fine album that has Mr. Harden playing with John Coltrane and master trombonist Curtis Fuller playing mostly Harden’s compositions. Wilbur’s beautiful and thoughtful approach to his horn is one of the highlights of this session. Harden and Co. are accompanied by either Howard Williams or the great Tommy Flanagan on piano, Alvin Jackson on bass and Arthur Taylor on drums. This music also of course spotlights John Coltrane in one of his most appealing and innovative periods.This long Jazz Feature combines two original albums done for Savoy Records: “Dial Africa” and “Tanganyika Strut”…great sounds!
The second trumpeter in this month’s series is Ted Curson. Ted is a unique voice who was first heard with Charles Mingus. He did a few fine albums on his own but always seemed to be overlooked. This rare date was done in Montreal in 1962 at L’Hermitage Hall. Ted surrounded himself with some fine players including alto saxophonist Al Doctor. Al was an American ex-pat who later left for a career as a Professor of Music in North Carolina. This is Doctor’s only recording and he is the perfect foil for Ted Curson. The rhythm section is superb with talented Montrealers like the legendary Maury Kaye on piano, Charles Biddle on bass and Charlie Duncan on drums. All the tunes are by Ted Curson and his playing and tunes demonstrate his vital and original approach to music. “Live at La Tete De L’Art” is an underground classic.
Trumpeter Joe Gordon was a major player who came from Boston and played with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and many others before making his way out West to L.A. Gordon became first call for many dates and worked and recorded with drummer Shelly Manne’s great Quintet plus doing dates with Thelonious Monk and Wes Montgomery. Gordon made few albums under his own name but this one made in 1961 is a fine one. Gordon’s crackling style is evident and as always he really delivers! He performs here with innovative alto saxophonist Jimmy Woods, who was a Jazz Feature artist last month. Woods makes his recording debut here. Pianist Dick Whittington, bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Milton Turner round out the band. There are eight tunes on this date all by Joe Gordon that shows his talents as a composer too. Joe was a major voice of the trumpet and sadly he died in a house fire in November 1963. “Lookin’ Good! is the name of the album and it sounds good too!
Our final trumpeter is the great Carmell Jones. Carmell came out of Lawrence, Kansas and moved to L.A. and became first call Jazz trumpet. Carmell’s sound and technique was outstanding and his concept was an original one. Carmell left for New York in 1964 to join pianist Horace Silver’s Quintet but didn’t like New York and soon left for a long and productive career in Europe before returning to his home town in Kansas to teach and play. He passed away at age 60. Before Carmell headed for Europe he made this wonderful album called “Jay Hawk Talk” with tenor saxophone master Jimmy Heath, pianist Barry Harris, bassist George Tucker and drummer Roger Humphries. It was a very well received recording by both fans and critics and stands as one of Carmell’s finest outings. He picked the band and contributed three originals while the rest of the tunes are good standards. “Jay Hawk Talk” is a gem and a fine portrait of an underrated trumpet master.