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West Coast – Sonny Criss!

sun 28 jan 2024
Theme: Jazz

Saturday 27 January, 18:00 CET – Jazz Carrousel.
Three sax players: Lucky Thompson, Benny Golson, and…Sonny Criss.
Los Angeles, 10 December 1945. The Dizzy Gillespie Quintet is on the bill in Billy Berg’s jazz club, with Charlie Parker on alto sax. The two East Coast horn players make their West Coast debut here. In the audience is an 18-year-old student who is studying alto sax: Sonny Criss. Next to him the 17 year old pianist Hampton Hawes. Criss already knew Parker’s music from his records. The evening would be a turning point in his life.

Sonny finds out which hotel Parker is staying in, gets his room number and knocks on the door. No reaction. But he doesn’t give up and keeps knocking. Parker eventually opens the door and lets him in. This is the start of a period spent as ‘errand boy’ for Parker, something he does together with Hampton Hawes. In the meantime, he is studying alto sax for all he is worth, determined to master his idol’s style of playing. Ultimately, Criss and Hawes manage to perform with Parker. The start of two careers.

Three years later, Criss takes part in Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic tours, and in the 1950s he starts recording under his own name. He mainly stays in his home town of LA on the West Coast. He doesn’t go to the East Coast, in the footsteps of other West Coasters such as Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon have been able to successfully continue their careers there.

So, no East Coast for Criss, instead he goes to…Paris! He made his first appearance in the jazz-loving French capital in the 1960s, and in 1963 led the recording of Jazz in Paris – Mr. Blues Pour Flirter.
with René Thomas (guitar), Georges Arvanitas (piano & organ), Pierre Michelot (bass) en Philippe Combelle (drums).
Early & Later Part 1 is a slow blues. Why does this number end with a fade out, just as Criss starts his second solo? Early & Later Part 2 is also a blues, but one in a faster tempo. In both pieces George Arvanitas provides a dirty-sounding organ.
After the ballad Day Dream Criss finally goes uptempo in On Green Dolphin Street.


However, this programme starts with Lucky Thompson…:

  • Lucky ThompsonLucky Thompson Plays Jerome Kern and No More (1963)

Who / Why Do I love You

Date: March 8, 1963
Location: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ
Label: Moodsville
Lucky Thompson (ldr), Lucky Thompson (ss, ts), Hank Jones (p), Wendell Marshall (b), Dave Bailey (d)

  • Lucky ThompsonLucky Thompson Plays Happy Days Are Here Again (1965)

Cry Me a River  / People / As Time Goes By

Date: February 16, 1965
Location: NY
Label: Prestige
Lucky Thompson (ldr), Lucky Thompson (ss, ts), Jack Melady (hrp), Tommy Flanagan (p), George Tucker (b), Walter Perkins (d)


…and ends with Benny Golson:

  • Benny GolsonBenny Golson and the Philadelphians (1958)

Stablemates / Thursday’s Theme / You’re Not the Kind

Date: November 17, 1958
Location: Nola’s Penthouse sound Studios, NY City
Label: United Artists
Benny Golson (ldr), Benny Golson (ts), Bobby Timmons (pno), Pierre Michelot (bs), Christian Garros (drs)


Jazz Carrousel – Bert Broere