Monday, November 14, 2016
Listening to Prestige 215: Bobby Jaspar
This was Jaspar's recording debut, and the American debut for the Belgian-born musician. He was probably better known as a saxophonist in Europe, but most of his American recording, and therefore most of his reputation, was on the flute.
Jaspar came to the US in 1956. The Swedes like Lars Gullin and Bengt Hallberg had paved the way for acceptance of European jazz musicians, and Jaspar arrived with a reputation as a cat who could play.
He also arrived with an American wife. He had married semi-expatriate Blosssom Dearie in Paris in 1955 (they would divorce in 1957, around the time he was making these Prestige sides).
Eddie Costa, also making his Prestige debut with this session, was really hitting his stride in 1957, the year that he was named the Down Beat new star of the year on both piano and vibes, the first time a musician had ever won two categories in the same year. He first hit New York in 1949, with his older brother Bill. It wasn't a long drive from his home town in central Pennsylvania--only 150 miles--but culturally, it might as well have been a moon shot. Atlas, PA, was a coal mining town, and not much modern jazz made it there. But brother Bill played piano, and had a taste for swing, which he passed on to Eddie. The two of them hit the big city together, where Eddie first heard Bud Powell, and found his true musical love. He recorded with Sal Salvador in 1954, and made his first recording as a leader in 1956, a trio session with Vinnie Burke and Nick Stabulas that was released by two primarily rhythm and blues labels, Jubilee and its subsidiary Josie.
Bobby Donaldson was also new to Prestige, but hardly new to the music business. He went back to the swing and jump blues days in the 1940s, but by this time he was a sought-after session drummer in virtually any genre you'd care to name.
These three tunes became part of an album called Flute Flight, with a second session that featured Herbie Mann and Joe Puma taking Costa's place, and Mann and Jaspar sharing leader billing.