Upon listening to Once Upon A Time for the first time, you may have to glance at the cover to confirm that you aren’t listening to an Ellington album by mistake, for this session is littered with Ellington stalwarts like Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance, Paul Gonsalves, and Jimmy Hamilton. You may also do a double take when you notice that the rest of the rhythm section is comprised of mavericks Richard Davis and Elvin Jones.
Despite the incongruities, they all conspire to create a grand swinging session that features heavy dollops of boogie woogie and swing and plenty of growls, smears, and plungers as well. Working through a variety of numbers from a brooding “Black and Tan Fantasy” to a frenetic “Cottontail,” pianist Earl Hines and company produce some first-rate big band music. The horn and reed men deliver some scalding choruses; Cat Anderson in particular rises to the occasion for some blistering high register solos. Surprisingly, Jones and Davis stick close to the beat and Hines, a reluctant soloist, prefers to fan the flames in the background.
Pee Wee Russell steps in for “The Blues In My Flat,” which also features an effective vocal delivery by Ray Nance. After being an artist for so long, it’s refreshing to see one of the old masters at the top of his game so late in his career. A welcome reissue, especially for those who are eager to see assorted Ellington sidemen strut their stuff.
Track Listing: 1. Once Upon A Time 2. Black and Tan Fantasy 3. Fantastic That
Personnel: Earl Hines-piano; Cat Anderson, Bill Berry, Ray Nance, Clark Terry-trumpet; Lawrence Brown,
Buster Cooper-trombone; Jimmy Hamilton-clarinet, tenor saxophone; Pee Wee Russell-clarinet;
Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope-alto saxophone; Harold Ashby, Paul Gonsalves-tenor saxophone;
Richard Davis, Aaron Bell-bass; Elvin Jones, Sonny Greer-drums.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.