Advertisement in the South-Central weekly gazette THE SCOOP —- Every Sunday night in the late-70s there’d be New Thing jazz at Century City Playhouse and after the concert on the drive home we’d always stop off at the Rubaiyat and catch Cleanhead with the Blevins Brothers
I grew up in the vast suburbs of Los Angeles, on the east side of that metropolis, mostly dependent on radio to keep me hooked in —- In those nascent days of the late 60s early 70s you’d find the concert listings in the Sunday Calendar section of the LATIMES, and I’d be astounded to read that Art Blakey or Dexter Gordon or Milt Jackson were appearing at places called The Lighthouse, or Rumsey’s, or Parisian Room —- These were like mythological beings, YOU COULD ACTUALLY GO SEE THEM?
So, that was a watershed moment. Up till then I’d been frequenting the Whisky-A-Go-Go and the Troubadour and wherever else Rock was being staged, like the beloved Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino, or the Pauley Pavilion at UCLA. All over SoCal. Sixties rock was pervasive. I still love those bands: Grateful Dead, the Airplane, Quicksilver, the Doors, Hot Tuna, Mike Bloomfield, Allman Brothers, they were the ones that led me to jazz.
One thing that struck me about jazz was how intimate it was. You could hear it played in what were essentially bars with music. You could actually watch Max Roach’s footwork, or get freaked out the first time you saw up close how big Dizzy’s cheeks could puff out, or stroll up behind Cecil Taylor at the Keystone (officially “Keystone Korners” because there already was a Keystone across the Bay over in Berkeley, but we all called it the Keystone) just to see what exactly his intangible fingers were doing on that piano. The last Rock concert I ever attended (besides Pat Metheny last week, hahaha) was Grateful Dead, Santa Barbara 1974 where the cops were searching everyone at the gate (arresting some of us) and we all packed onto a football field in the broad daylight and cooked like turnips without nothing to drink, while watching stage hands and performers stroll around with frosty beers in their regal privileged magisterial separateness from us sunbaked serfs sitting in the dirt sweating. About as much fun as a poke in the eye. (We were young so it was sorta tolerable.) And let’s not even talk about disentangling your hippiemobile from parking when it was all over. Quite a bit different from having Blue Mitchell buy you a beer at Dontes (I’d given him some 8x10s). Or having a hamburger & Pepsi with Sheila Jordan on Eighth Avenue.
That was the absolute juncture for me. I’d already been catching jazz around town, but in 1974 I went headlong into it. Call me arrogant but I don’t do well in crowds. Like the time my high school buddy Bill Miller and I were seeing the Dead at the Long Beach Arena, Dec.1972 (geezus, you can look these things up nowadays) and the kid next to us puked all over the floor and it stunk to high hell and we had to get out of there. (Bill was a very proper kind of guy, who never wore Levis, went to England that year and came back speaking like the Regency —- an Asian-American with pretensions of the upper classes, a good guy, I miss him, wherever he is.)
In jazz you set up your own instruments (unless you’re Buddy Rich :) You can watch Ed Blackwell take his drumset down at the end of the night. Or carry Billy Hart’s cymbal bag for him. Or have a galactical chat with Sun Ra.
So, where was this jazz? If you were lucky enough to live in or near one of the main jazz cities: LA Detroit NYC Philadelphia Chicago New Orleans Dallas/Ft Worth Denver Frisco, then you were set. Otherwise, you have to search around, look under rocks, around corners, down alleys, it’s there, sometimes in plain sight. Best heard at your local tavern, where it’s real.
Roberto Miranda —- 1978 —- photo by MW —- Roberto played with all the Out cats those years: Stanley Crouch’s Black Music Infinity, David Murray, Bradford & Carter, Horace Tapscott, Vinny Golia’s Trio, Linda Hill, James Newton, Alex Cline, Thomas Tedesco, Sonship, Julius Hemphill, Tim Berne, the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra . . . . . . .
Fond memories of tooling down the night freeways, James Newton and I singing along at the top of our lungs with June Tyson in my blue Volks bug with beers “The sound of joy is enlightenment!” on the Sun Ra classic (Fondation Maeght, 1970, still one of my favorites). We lived on the same side of town and would be coming home from the Sunday jam session at Bobby Bradford’s club The Little Big Horn —- Photo is James with Paul Bley visiting LA, who was brought by the Little Big Horn by Vinny Golia —- December 19, 1976 photo by MW
I was telling Nels the other day that he should consider writing his memoir, that it’d be interesting to get a bi-coastal view of improvised music since the 1970s —- He grew up in West LA and now resides in New York and/or on the road with Wilco —- He said it wasn’t in the cards right now —- The first liner notes I ever wrote for an album was Nels & Eric VonEssen’s first album in 1980, we’re old friends —- Photo is 1978 by MW
Bill Holman Big Band —- July 25, 1980 Bonaventure Hotel —- Bill (conductor & woodwinds), Milcho Leviev(piano), Monty Budwig(bass), Nick Ceroli(drums), David Levine(conga), Reeds: Bob Cooper, Mike Altschul, Dan Higgins, Bob Sheppard, Kenny Berger: Trombones: Jack Redman, Rick Pulver, Kenny Shroyer, Bob Enevoldsen; Trumpets: Bill Stapleton, Bob Szabo, Bob Summers, Don Rader —- photo by MW
May 10, 1981 trumpeter Charles Moore presented his Eternal Winds Orchestra with Ralph Penland(drums), Rich Ruttenberg(keyboards), Kenton Youngstrom & Redrico Ramas (guitars), Buzzy Jones (woodwinds), Adam Rudolph(conga) —- Charles Moore had relocated to LA from Detroit around this time (check out his two Blue Note albums) —- AND that’s Greg Cohen on bass, fellow enthusiast of Capt Beefheart, who I met when he was with Kenny Davern’s Quartet, around the time of this photo Greg was working with Tom Waits —- photo by Mark Weber at Maiden Voyage club downtown Los Angeles across the street from MacArthur Park
Harold Land and Blue Mitchell at Donte’s —- July 10, 1977 photo by Mark Weber
Ed Blackwell and Don Cherry packing up —- January 15, 1982 at the Biltmore Hotel, downtown LA photo by Mark Weber
Two woodwinds masters from Texas: John Carter and Julius Hemphill —- March 22 or 23 (I was there both nights) 1977 —- Studio Z, 2409 W. Slauson, Los Angeles photo by MW
Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra —- Aubrey Hart (flute), George Goldsmith (drums), Sabir Mateen (tenor) —- July 27, 1980 photo by Mark Weber
Bobby Bradford and James Kousakis recording session for album LOST IN L.A. —- June 7, 1983 photo by Mark Weber
KKGO jazz disk jockey Chuck Niles introduces Red Holloway’s Quintet: Phillip Upchurch(guitar), Art Hillary(piano), Bruno Carr(drums), Richard Reed(bass), Red (tenor) —- January 25, 1981 at Museum of Science & Industry photo by Mark Weber
Vinny Golia (b-clarinet), the late John Rapson (trombone), Wayne Peet (piano) —- February 7, 1981 Santa Monica photo by MW
Teddy Edwards with Leroy Vinnegar(bass), trumpeter Clora Bryant, and trombonist Fred Carter —- July 5, 1980 photo by Mark Weber (Art Hillary, piano, and Clarence Johnston, drums, and Ernie Andrews, song, filled out the septet)
Bennie Maupin —- Watts Towers Jazz Festival —- July 5, 1980 —- photo by Mark Weber
Bobby Hutcherson, Orrin Keepnews, Willie Bobo —- backstage at Maiden Voyage, downtown LA —- January 31, 1980 photo by Mark Weber
Bobby Shew Quintet, a long-standing quintet Bobby had those years, here playing way out in Cucamonga on Rt.66, little club that had Sunday jazz called Gilberto’s —- Bobby(flugelhorn), Dick Berk (drums), Bob Magnussen (bass), Gordon Brisker (woodwinds), Bill Mays (piano) —- November 16, 1980 photo by Mark Weber
Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at UCLA —- Linda Hill (piano), Arthur Wells aka Dadesi (sax), Fritz Wise (drums), Ufahamu (sax), Al Hines, David Bryant, Henry Franklin (basses), Horace Tapscott in the shadows —- May 16, 1981 photo by Mark Weber
Red Callendar —- June 1, 1980 —- photo by Mark Weber
Freddie Hubbard on October 1, 1979 in quartet formation: Larry Klein(elec-bass), Carl Burnett(drums), Billy Childs(keyboard) at a Orient Express, Claremont California, that only presented jazz for a minute and was gone —- photo by Mark Weber
Johnny Otis was a great guy, band leader, disk jockey, record producer, sponsor, advocate, all around super-hip aware kind of guy —- He converted his home into the Landmark Community Church (2077 S. Harvard Blvd, LA) and I’d pop in occasionally and I never heard him preach, per se, all I heard was R&B and gospel hymns and spirituals —- Not sure who this fellow is with Johnny —- Mighty Mouth? photo by MW October 14, 1979
Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra —- with David Bryant and Al Hines (basses), Billy Hinton (drums), and Horace Tapscott (piano) —- photo by Mark Weber August 30, 1981 at their last performance at I.U.C.C.
Now you know why Ted Brown wrote that tune in the 50s “Smog L.A.” This is San Bernardino Frwy (Interstate-10) heading west into Los Angeles back when there weren’t that many cars clogging up the roadways —- I’m sitting shotgun in my 1964 Ford Fairlane, a great freeway car —- May 9, 1981 photo by MW
hi mark, thanks for these pictures. brings back great memories and keeps the history alive for us all.
Great photos Mark! I subbed for Mike Altschul in Bill Holman’s band for rehearsals, which I did mainly to sit next to Bob Cooper. I live a quarter mile from the old Rubaiyat Room, and hung out with Cleanhead there.
I pretty much got into jazz for the same reason – the intimacy, connections and surprise of the music. Such a disconnect in large venues. It happened for me on my trips to NYC in the late 80’s. That’s why these pictures are so interesting to see people I know now at a time when I didn’t.
I enjoyed your great photos and stories, Mark. After to moving to LA in ‘88, I saw some of those same master musicians while they were still on the scene. Your photos are nice reminders of the vibrant music that has existed here.
Pianist Carol Liebowitz asks if I didn’t mean “Smog Eyes” (1956) by Ted Brown? and I sure did, oops.
The tune “Smog LA” appears on a Wally Cirrilo Quartet (1955) w/ Mingus, Klook, & Teo Macero
Glad you had fun.
This is fantastic. I spent a lot of Monday nights at the Rubiyat. It’s where I first heard Sonny Criss in person and where I first, briefly, spoke to him. I knew Horace Tapscott from community college; he subbed in a dance combo and when I would pick him up to go to the gig there was invariably a Strayhorn or Duke composition on the piano. Later, he wrote the compositions and arrangements for the “Sonny’s Dream” session, a highlight of my career. Mike Altschul was a great friend and a great musician; in fact, he was responsible for my first studio work. Teddy Edwards was a fellow alumnus of the Ernie Fields band. He was there in 1943 and I was there in 1960 and the guitar player when Teddy was in the band, Jack Scott, was the bass player during my tenure. I heard Paul Bley at the Hillcrest and was dazzled and mystified by the music. Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, Don and Ornette. Vinny Golia is a living legend and Bobby Bradford was a faculty colleague at Pomona College, where he was full-time and I was an adjunct. I called Red Callender “pop.” His curiosity never stopped. I played on a Freddie Hubbard album but we overdubbed the chamber ensemble parts and I never met him. This is a GREAT way to start the day. Thanks, Mark.
Just for the record, that’s FRANK SZABO in Bill Holman’s band on trumpet, the cat with the beard and big glasses.
Thanks MARTY ——————- I typed that caption up from olde notes ———– of which I have long since corrected, AND I see I got Rick Culver erroneously as “Pulver” —————- We’ll fix that right now ——– Always be sure to find errors, I need to always update!
I wish I had brought my camera to the Musicians Union Local 47 on Vine Street. In 1981 if you worked a studio gig, you had to pick up your check at the union to pay the work dues. Every month there was the A-team lined up: Cip, Ronnie Lang, Sheridan Stokes, Louise DuTillio, Vince DeRosa, et. al. The women at the counter had fun announcing the amount of work dues we owed, which was like 1.5% (?) of our total. “Cip, that’ll be $187!” loud enough for everyone to hear. The lines were over a dozen long. Then she’d hand Cip a stack of checks four inches high wrapped in a rubber band. Finally, my turn. “Marty, that’ll be a dollar seventy-five!” But the embarrassment was worth it when I stood in line behind Eddie Harris, Horace Silver, Teddy Edwards, or anyone else I recognized and picked their brains. They were eager to hang out while waiting for twenty minutes. Or maybe they just tolerated me because, as Dave Sherr used to say, “Be nice to everyone – you never know who’ll be a contractor.”
Charles Moore was a trip!
on this gig Patrice Rushen couldn’t make it, so Rich Ruttenberg played (wonderfully!).
He became Barbera Streisands MD/pianist. We worked together with Frankie Randell during this time with Raymond Pounds on drums (Stevie Wonder). Fredrico Ramas played on my 1st leader session. I met Youngstrom around my place in Echo Park and he had just started the LA Guitar Quartet at this time. Ralph Penland – a master and one of a few drummers who could pay respect to Tony Williams so originally. This band later went on to work with Yuseff Lateef.
I enjoyed your reminiscences and photos Mark.