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Marc Myers' JazzWax

JazzSnap: Harry James (c. 1943)


The saxophonist here is Corky Corcoran, lead tenor on Harry James' band recordings from 1941 through the 1970s. That's James on trumpet, of course, and James band stringman John deVoodgt to James' right. I'm guessing this is 1943 based on the cut of their suits and the fabulous 1943 newspaper photo of James on the right.

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 1.41.39 PM

Jazz-Johnny DeVogue-left, Harry James-middle, Corky Corcoran-right


Interview: Booker T. Jones


BookertxNot sure who Booker T. Jones is? If I took away "Jones," would that help? Yep, he's that Booker T. In today's Wall Street Journal (go here), I interview Booker T. of Booker T. & the M.G.'s about his new solo album, The Road From Memphis, as well as a range of other topics. [Photo by Jason Thrasher]

Roy Orbison: Monument Singles


Roy-orbison-cryingWith images of lower Memphis awash in a swollen Mississippi River, I spent yesterday listening to Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection (1960-1964), a newly remastered, three-disc set from Sony Legacy. As readers know, I love everything about Memphis—the energy, the kindness of strangers, the ribs and pork shoulder, the city's rich blues and rock history, and the humidity. So Orbison's recordings were just right, reminding me how delightfully dark and somewhat misunderstood this early rocker was.

Chris Byars: Lucky Strikes Again


Screen shot 2011-05-09 at 8.37.57 PMWhen the names of great tenor saxophonists are tossed around, the chain of succession generally runs like this: Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. All, of course, were reed titans, and Sonny still is. A half-step below this esteemed group is a second tier of greats that includes Don Byas, Wardell Gray, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Hank Mobley, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Wayne Shorter. Typically left out is Lucky Thompson [pictured], who was an exceptional musician in every way.

Ronnie Mathews: Doin' the Thang!


P39203feccwRonnie Mathews is barely known today, but the pianist was a distinguished sideman starting in 1960 and a leader through the years. As a sideman, he appeared on Freddie Hubbard's Breaking Point (1964), Lee Morgan's Rumproller (1965) Max Roach's Drums Unlimited (1965) and Dexter Gordon's The Homecoming (1976), as well as on albums by many leading jazz stars. As a leader, one of Mathews' finest albums was—Doin' the Thang!, recorded for Prestige in December 1963.

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