Fascinating to consider that Mr. “Sugarfoot Rag” himself, Hank Garland, would go on later to record one of the smoothest, coolest West Coast modern jazz albums — in fact, the very same one that inspired George Benson. Check out the kick-off tune:
Jazz Winds from a New Direction would feature the top-notch playing of Gary Burton on vibraphone, drummer Joe Morello (of the Dave Brubeck Quartet), and Joe Benjamin (sideman for Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Burrell, and Roland Kirk, et al.) on string bass
Hank Garland originally made acquaintance with drummer, Joe Morello, when both worked for bandleader, Paul Howard, as part of his Arkansas Cotton Pickers who, as Rick Kienzle points out in his liner notes to the CD reissue, “were a Western Swing outfit, playing the same unorthodox mix of country, pop, and jazz that Bob Wills played in the Southwest.” Hank Garland, by the way, joined Paul Howard’s band when he was just 15.
Kienzle also points out that after Hank’s family – based in Cowpens, South Carolina – decided to make the big move to Nashville, Hank found “kindred spirits” with Billy Byrd and Harold Bradley, who “took him in under their wing.” Garland would later leave Howard to join the backing band for Cowboy Copas before eventually signing with Decca in 1949 as Hank Garland and His Sugar Footers. His first recording session (May 1949) would yield “Sugarfoot Boogie,” while his second (August 1949) would produce the much better-known “Sugarfoot Rag.”
At the same time, Garland would also join the “elite A-team, a cadre of creative, versatile musicians every producer wanted to use. Hank was part of that group’s core, along with fellow guitarists Grady Martin and Harold Bradley, drummer Buddy Harman, bassist Bob Moore, saxophonist Boots Randolph, and pianist Floyd Cramer.”
“The respect from producers paid off in March, 1959,” Kienzle writes, “when Don Law signed Hank to a one-year Columbia contract with two one-year options” (as history would show, Columbia exercised both of those options). Jazz Winds – recorded in August 1960 – would be the second album in his tenure at almighty Columbia, with Grady Martin at the helm as producer.
Interesting to note that John Hammond, who wrote “enthusiastic” liner notes for the Jazz Winds album, would produce the debut (and only) Columbia album by Garland admirer, George Benson six years later.
Hank & Faron on “Ozark Jubilee”
Great live performance of Hank playing “Sugarfoot Rag” on the “Ozark Jubilee” TV show hosted by Faron Young:
Hank & Grady: “Ozark Jubilee” Connection Runneth Deep
The “Ozark Jubilee” house band was first known as The Crossroads Boys and consisted of Grady Martin, Billy Burke, Bud Isaacs, Tommy Jackson, Paul Mitchell, Jimmy Selph, Bob Moore and Mel Bly. The name, however, was soon changed to Bill Wimberly and His Country Rhythm Boys, a seven-piece group that alternated weekly during 1955 with Grady Martin and His Wingin’ Strings, featuring Bob Moore, Tommy Jackson, Bud Isaacs and Hank Garland.