514

Musical Talent Is (Now and Then) All in the Family

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The induction of almost the entire Marsalis family (father Ellis, piano, and sons Wynton, trumpet; Branford, saxophones; Delfeayo, trombone; and Jason, drums) set me to thinking about how musical talent sometimes runs in families. In the pop world, almost everyone knows about the Jacksons, the Kings, the Osmonds and others. The same is true in jazz, in which a few families manifest extraordinary musical aptitude, well beyond what the law of averages would presume. Is it nature, nurture or some combination of those ingredients? Your guess is as good as mine (perhaps better). The fact is that musical proficiency sometimes runs in families. And the families in which it arises are in many cases blessed not only with talent, but extraordinary talent, above and beyond the norm.

In spite of their impressive talents, the Marsalises are in effect laboring to keep up with the Joneses, within whose ranks are three Hall of Fame standouts (trumpeter Thad, pianist Hank, drummer Elvin). And they are by no means the only families in which musical talent seems to run rampant. The Heath brothers (Jimmy, tenor sax; Percy, bass; Albert "Tootie," drums) must be ranked near the top of any list, and one mustn't overlook the Montgomerys (Wes, guitar; Buddy, piano / vibes; Monk, bass) or the LaBarberas (Pat, saxophones; Joe, drums; John, trumpet / composer). A few have played the same instrument (Pete and Conte Candoli, trumpet; Bud and Richie Powell, piano, for example) but not many if one excludes the vocalists (Nat and Freddie Cole, Bing and Bob Crosby, Roy and Irene Kral among them).

Here's a brief (and far from inclusive) list of other family members whose talent has enabled them to become well-known while making a decent living playing jazz:

The Dorseys (Tommy, trombone; Jimmy, saxophone); the Adderleys (Julian "Cannonball," alto sax; Nat, flugelhorn); the Breckers (Michael, tenor sax; Randy, trumpet); the Claytons (John, bass; Jeff, saxophones); the Mangiones (Chuck, trumpet; Gap, piano); the Methenys (Pat, guitar; Mike, trumpet); the Eubanks (Robin, trombone; Kevin, guitar); the Williamsons (Claude, piano; Stu, trumpet, valve trombone); the Royals (Ernie, trumpet; Marshall, alto sax); the Sims (Zoot, saxophones; Ray, trombone); the Turrentines (Stanley, tenor sax; Tommy, trumpet); the Teagardens (Jack, trombone; Charlie, trumpet); the Vaches (Warren, trumpet; Allan, clarinet). While there are no doubt many more where these came from, this should serve as a reminder that when it comes to intrafamily musical aptitude, the Marsalises aren't alone or even unique. Others may advance reasons for the phenomenon; as for this writer (whose musical talent is less than nil), I am simply amazed, thankful (and, I'll admit, a trifle envious) that some families have been so abundantly blessed.

Out and About

Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Time Check: A Paucity of Riches? Big Band Report Time Check: A Paucity of Riches?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 2, 2016
Read Buddy Rich Rides Again Big Band Report Buddy Rich Rides Again
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 27, 2016
Read Buddy Rich: The Beat Goes On Big Band Report Buddy Rich: The Beat Goes On
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 11, 2014
Read Swingin' on a Riff . . . Hangin' by a Thread? Big Band Report Swingin' on a Riff . . . Hangin' by a Thread?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 14, 2013
Read Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names Big Band Report Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 4, 2013
Read In Tune or Not in Tune... That Is the Question Big Band Report In Tune or Not in Tune... That Is the Question
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 2, 2013
Read "Time Check: A Paucity of Riches?" Big Band Report Time Check: A Paucity of Riches?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 2, 2016
Read "You Too Can Be A Jazz Fan!" Jazz Primer You Too Can Be A Jazz Fan!
by AAJ Staff
Published: April 23, 2016
Read "Zoot Sims & Jimmy Rowles: If I'm Lucky" Getting Into Jazz Zoot Sims & Jimmy Rowles: If I'm Lucky
by Mark Barnett
Published: March 28, 2016
Read "Gregory Porter At The Ulster Hall, Belfast" Live Reviews Gregory Porter At The Ulster Hall, Belfast
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 6, 2016
Read "John Scofield: Country for Old Men" Extended Analysis John Scofield: Country for Old Men
by John Kelman
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "Jack Tempchin: One More Song" Extended Analysis Jack Tempchin: One More Song
by Doug Collette
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Dominick Farinacci: Sharing Stories" Interviews Dominick Farinacci: Sharing Stories
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: August 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!