Hampton HAWES 1958

Hampton Hawes cut his musical teeth in the bebop stampede on the West Coast, learning his craft in the clubs around LA's Central Avenue, even playing alongside Parker in a group led by Howard McGhee in 1947. Full of promise and aspiration he was a jewel in the Californian crown, but commercially the 1950s were to herald a false dawn for Hawes. Wider recognition came only in 1955, held back partly through his own reluctance to move centre-stage and his disastrous call-up for national service.
A visit to Minton's Playhouse in New York during 1947 had left Hawes feeling musically inhibited, and concluding that he "wasn't quite ready… no point in selling tickets if you don't have a show" he joined Wild Bill Moore's band for a spell on the road. Returning to Los Angeles he plied his trade along Central Avenue, and with Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon, Teddy Edwards and others forged an impressive local reputation.
Lester Koenig resolved to sign Hawes to Contemporary Records after hearing him first in 1953 in a group led by Shorty Rogers, and, following his tempestuous spell in the army, a series of six albums recorded in 1955 and 1956 formed the backbone of critical acclaim that put him on the national jazz map. He scored highly in successive magazine polls until 1958, but behind the scenes his personal life was in free fall as drug use cast its shadow, and a narcotics charge in November 1958 -albeit unjust in this instance- took Hawes to prison.
Kennedy granted him a presidential pardon that released him mid-sentence in 1963, but his golden years had passed. He remained on the West Coast, clean and, if not financially replete, in occasional demand locally and active at a time when piano jazz was in its heyday. There were opportunities to record, often more readily forthcoming on his occasional forays abroad, but few highlights: the dictates of fashion and his often inappropriate attempts to track them offer feeble documentation to his abilities. Hawes died of a stroke in 1977 aged just forty-eight.


Hampton HAWES p, Harold LAND ts, Scott La FARO b, Frank BUTLER dr,

Harold Land, born in Houston and raised in San Diego, moved to Los Angeles in the early '50s. In 1954, he joined the famed Brown-Roach quintet, with which he toured the United States and recorded several albums for EmArcy. After two years with the ensemble, Land felt the need to be closer to his family, which was in Los Angeles, and so he returned and has resided there ever since. Land recalled the mid-to-late '50s, when LA was teeming with jazz. "That was a very healthy period here" says the tenorman. "A lot of clubs around the city had a six-night-a-week policy, and most musicians were working".He soon began to establish himself as one of the most singular and powerful of jazzmen, making albums with bassists Red Mitchell and Curtis Counce and then, in 1958, making his 12'' LP debut (he had recorded four selections in 1949 that were released by Savoy). Harold in the Land of Jazz was issued on Contemporary Records, and was followed a year later by The Fox, on HiFi Jazz (available as a Contemporary Records reissue), which many consider his best early recording. He also began performing with Gerald Wilson's orchestra, and with pianists Hampton Hawes and Carl Perkins, becoming an essential cog in the wheel of Los Angeles jazz. Nonetheless, the saxophonist didn't really get much exposure outside LA until he formed a quintet with vibist Bobby Hutcherson in the late '60s. The band recorded for Blue Note and toured the US and Europe. "There were a lot of similar things that Bobby and I responded to emotionally and musically" Land says.
Also during the '60s, Land, like so many saxophonists, became enamored with John Coltrane, and he found that both his smooth sound and his approach to improvising changed during this period. "John definitely inspired me with his intense spirit, and I usually say that spirit moved me so much that I became a little more intense in my own musical presentation" says Land. "At the same time, I was trying to maintain a certain individuality that I hope I have managed to do".
In the late '70s and '80s, Land joined the Timeless All-Stars, which also included Higgins, Hutcherson, Cedar Walton, and Curtis Fuller. In and around performances with the Timeless band, Land fronted fine quintets that featured trumpeters Blue Mitchell (their Mapenzi, on Concord Jazz, is a classic) and Oscar Brashear (documented on Xocia's Dance on Muse). Land remains one of the most impressive and deep improvisers in jazz.

To be continued...

1 comment:

metro9999 said...

Now, this line of endeavour looks very good. Hampton Hawes is the real thing!