“All the Things You Are”: West Coast Jazz from … Hank Garland?

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:

“All the Things You Are”     Hank Garland Quartet     1960

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Hank Garland originally made acquaintance with drummer, Joe Morello, when both worked for bandleader, Paul Howard, as part of his Arkansas Cotton Pickers who, as Rick Kienzle points out in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.”

Hank Garland LP“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.

“Slick”: Musical Athletics as Envisioned by Herb Alpert

Herb Alpert demonstrates music’s connection with athletics in this playfully surreal video for “Slick” by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, from ‘Beat of the Brass’ – Herb’s 1968 television special:

“Slick”     Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass     1968

There’s a comically dangerous moment (or is it dangerously comic?) around the 2:09 mark when Herb Alpert has to duck swiftly to avoid getting beaned by a line drive.

PBS’s American Experience explains the concept for “Beat of the Brass”:

CBS produced several television specials featuring Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, each one a ratings success.  The Beat of the Brass, which aired in April of 1968, was the most ambitious:  it showed the band in a range of locales, including New Orleans and Ellis Island, and received gobs of advance coverage in the entertainment press.

In an article entitled “2nd TV Special Climaxes Albert Month at A&M,” Record World reported in its April 20, 1968 issue that the first television special Singer Presents Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass “garnered the highest Nielsen ratings of any hour special in the history of television, label reports, and the encore showing landed in the list of the 12 top-rated shows of the week.”  The article also notes that “nine albums later, they could be the top audio-visual unit in the nation” and that “every Alpert album has made more than a million dollars.”

“Slick” can be found on 1968’s Beat of the Brass album (the group’s twelfth, I believe), as well as the B-side for “Cabaret.” 

“Supersonics in Flight”: Billy Mure’s Jet-Age Guitar Army

Before The Barclay Stars and their lone 1966 breakthrough album, Billy Mure was the first and last name in military guitar ensembles.  The title track from Billy’s 1959 RCA album, Supersonics in Flight, demonstrates the glorious sound of multiple guitars playing stereophonically in tandem.

Supersonics in Flight – Billy Mure

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Supersonics in Flight” by Billy Mure.]

Billy Mure LP

Billboard‘s review from their April 13, 1952 edition:

This album is inspired by the Navy jet fighter F-11F1, the Tiger. Mure and his guitar ensemble with their rapid-fire fingering, are supposedly capturing the speed and excitement of this modern aircraft. Actually there is little of the jet sound here. The production, however, has a fine sound and the artists are adept at their work. The guitars are heard with various types of percussion and in some cases with organ. Musically interesting and the set has a beat.

1959 NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences) Nominations would find Supersonics in Flight up for a Best Engineering award in the “Novelty Recording” category!