Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names
Naturally, brass and reeds would be undone without a rhythm section, and that includes piano and drums (the basses were dealt with earlier). Singling out pianists has become a tricky business, as most of my personal favorites are no longer with us, while those who are left aren't as active as they once were. Ahmad Jamal (eighty-two) is still around, as are Barry Harris (eighty-three), Cedar Walton (seventy-nine), Horace Silver (eighty-four) and Canada's Oliver Jones (seventy-eight) but Oscar Peterson, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Pete Jolly, Russ Freeman, Claude Williamson and so many others are gone. Among those who remain, Kenny Barron is certainly a standout, and I've always been partial to Maynard Ferguson's son-in-law, Christian Jacob. Other names that spring to mind include Harold Mabern, Mike LeDonne, Tom Ranier, David Hazeltine and Mike Longo. I'm sure there are many others, but as I said, this is a short list. And while there may be no drum titans such as Rich, Bellson, Krupa, Manne, Webb, Catlett, Blakey, Roach, Morello or Lewis on the scene, some splendid timekeepers are still plying their trade including Jimmy Cobb, Roy Haynes (age eighty-eight), Lewis Nash, Peter Erskine, Frank Capp, Jeff Hamilton, Billy Higgins, Kenny Washington, Carl Allen, Billy Hart, Dennis Mackrel, Joe LaBarbera and DIVA's Maricle. We'll have to make do with them.
By now you may have noticed that save for Oliver Jones, these musicians have at least one thing in common: they are all Americans. Does that imply there are no world-class musicians overseas? Not at all. What it means is the list is so long I'd have to write another column to encompass all the names that belong there. Such a list would have to include trumpeters Eric Miyashiro, Peter Asplund, Bert Joris, John MacLeod and Ack Van Rooyen; saxophonists Paquito D'Rivera, Ferdinand Povel, Igor Butman, Alan Barnes, John Williams and Michael Lutzeier; trombonists Mark Nightingale, Ian McDougall, Svatopluk Kosvanec and Robert Bachner; pianists Jan Lundgren, Makoto Ozone, Don Thompson, Junko Moriya and Peter Beets, and a large number of blue-chip drummers (not to mention guitarists such as Canadian standouts Ed Bickert and Lorne Lofsky). And we've not even mentioned composers, arrangers or the world's resident musical genius, Australia's James Morrison, who plays almost every instrument known to mankind about as well as anyone you'd care to name. In fact, two of the finest musicians I've ever heard (aside from Morrison, who is in a class by himself) were born and played overseas: baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin (Sweden) and tenor Tubby Hayes (Great Britain).