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Hank Crawford

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time.

Bennie Ross Crawford Jr. was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 21, 1934, began formal piano studies at age nine and was soon playing for his church choir. His father had brought an alto saxophone home from the service and when Hank entered high school, he took it up in order to join the band. He credits Charlie Parker, Louis Jordan, Earl Bostic and Johnny Hodges as early influences.

At school, he hung out with Phineas and Calvin Newborn, Booker Little, George Coleman, Frank Stozier and Harold Mabern—all of whom would go on to become important jazz figures. "We had a pretty good education just by being around each other," Crawford says now.

Before he had finished high school, Hank was playing in bands led by Ben Branch, Tuff Green, Al Jackson, Sr. and Ike Turner. They were frequently called upon to back such up-and-coming blues singers as B. B. King, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Johnny Ace and Roscoe Gordon and the Palace Theatre, the Club Paradise and other Memphis venues.

In 1953, Crawford went away to Tennessee State College in Nashville where he developed his arranging skills as a leader of the school dance band, which included vocalist Leon Thomas. During the evening, he led a quartet called Little Hank and the Rhythm Kings. Discovered one night at the Subway Lounge by country producer Roy Hall, the group cut "The House of Pink Lights" and "Christine" for a local label with Crawford as featured vocalist.

His big break came in 1958 when Ray Charles passed through Nashville. Baritone saxophonist Leroy “Hog” Cooper had just left the band, and Charles offered Crawford the baritone chair. “I learned a lot about discipline and phrasing from Ray,” Crawford says. “He would keep me up a lot of nights and dictate arrangements to me. I learned how to voice and get that soulful sound. I think I kinda had it before, but being around him just helped that much more.”

"Sherry", Hank's first composition and arrangement for the Charles septet, was recorded for the Ray Charles At Newport album shortly after he joined the band. He also contributed three tunes and six arrangements to Fathead Newman's debut albums later in 1958. Two years later, Charles expanded to full big band size and appointed Crawford musical director. (Crawford also switched to alto around this time.)

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152
Album Review

Hank Crawford: Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing

Read "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky


Saxophonist Hank Crawford will forever be linked to his one-time employer, the great Ray Charles, in the minds of R&B lovers, but soul-fusion fans are likely to remember him for a string of albums he recorded on the Kudu label in the 1970s. Crawford and tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine proved to be the two pillars of potent saxophone soul in label head/producer Creed Taylor's stable during this era, but Crawford's work is often overlooked now, while Turrentine's albums still get ...

118
Album Review

Johnny Hammond: Breakout

Read "Breakout" reviewed by Jim Santella


The CTI jazz catalog holds many surprises. This one features a strong 8-piece band led by organist Johnny Hammond (1933-1997), who was known earlier as Johnny “Hammond" Smith. Recorded in 1971, the album emphasized swinging mood music with a flair for popular sounds. It marked a turning point in the career of Grover Washington, Jr. He, Hank Crawford and Eric Gale are all over the place, alongside Hammond's B-3. It’s a party. A previously unissued track, recorded shortly after the ...

110
Album Review

Johnny Hammond: Breakout

Read "Breakout" reviewed by David Rickert


A prime example of the CTI label’s indulgence in the commercial possibilities of jazz, Breakout gave Johnny Hammond the opportunity to escape from the long shadow cast by Jimmy Smith. Sticking with the Hammond B-3, by this time a bit old-fashioned as many had become enchanted with the Fender Rhodes, Hammond and his band contribute an album’s worth of soul jazz workouts. By this time, rock tunes had become the new would-be standards and Hammond proves that such unlikely candidates ...

173
Album Review

Hank Crawford: Low Flame High Heat

Read "Low Flame High Heat" reviewed by AAJ Staff


If Low Flame High Heat proves nothing else, it proves the consistency of Hank Crawford. Listen to his most recent CD, The World Of Hank Crawford on Milestone. Then listen to Label M's Low Flame High Heat from the early 1960's. Crawford's urgent tone and spiritual feel haven't changed in decades, proving that he was extremely good early in his career and that even today no one quite sounds like him. Low Flame High Heat compiles tracks from ...

286
Album Review

Hank Crawford: Memphis, Ray and a Touch of Moody

Read "Memphis, Ray and a Touch of Moody" reviewed by Douglas Payne


director from 1958-64, already had his own sound on alto sax by 1960 when he started his own Atlantic recording career (quite a feat in the wake of Bird and the dawn of Cannonball). During the next decade, he produced a consistent catalog of soulful sets for Atlantic, almost all well worth hearing.This excellent two-disc set brings back four (!) of the best and earliest of Crawford's long out-of-print Atlantic LPs: his debut, More Soul (1960); his third, ...

182
Album Review

Hank Crawford: Down on the Deuce

Read "Down on the Deuce" reviewed by Douglas Payne


Although Hank Crawford's second Milestone LP was made in 1984, it's never been available on CD until this 1998 release. It's a welcome, enjoyable date that finds Hank digging into what he does best. There's a bit 'a funk ("Survival"), a bit 'a blues ("Used To Be Love" and “Down Home Blues"), some ballads (the yucky Kenny Rogers hit “Through The Years") and a little boogaloo (the title track). With producer Bob Porter at the helm, a first-rate cast of ...

113
Album Review

Hank Crawford / Jimmy McGriff: Road Tested

Read "Road Tested" reviewed by Douglas Payne


Alto man Hank Crawford and organist Jimmy McGriff are made for each other. Mixing the right brew of blues, swing and funk, they compliment one another's soulful sound in distinctive style. Road Tested, the seventh pairing under both their names, is exactly what you'd expect from these two: the tried and trues of funk and blues. What gives it an edge, though, is Crawford and McGriff riffing in the excellent company of Wayne Boyd on guitar and funkmaster Bernard Purdie ...

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Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today!

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today!

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today!

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today!

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today!

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

1

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today!

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today!

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today! Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

1

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today! Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Jazz Musician of the Day: Hank Crawford

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Hank Crawford's birthday today!

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time. Bennie Ross ...

George Starks
saxophone
Will Boyd
woodwinds
Richie Love
saxophone

Photos

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

It's A Funky Thing To...

Atlantic Records
2011

buy

Don't You Worry 'Bout...

CTI Masterworks
2011

buy

The Spirit The Power...

Atlantic Records
2008

buy

Gold Diggers - As...

Atlantic Records
2006

buy

Breakout

CTI Records
2002

buy

Videos

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