Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wrapping up 1957, just one more once

I can’t quite seem to let 1957 go, so here, thanks to the music division of the New York Public Library, still the researcher’s best friend ever, is the Down Beat reader’s poll for 1957, with some thoughts.


1 Duke Ellington

2 Modern Jazz Quartet

3 Dizzy Gillespie

4 Erroll Garner

5 Count Basie

6 Dave Brubeck

7 Jimmy Giuffre

8 Shelly Manne

9 Louis Armstrong

10 Gerry Mulligan

If you were going to take Paul Ackerman’s advice about jazz needing better marketing, what better place to start than with personalities? Whatever that means. I actually like the idea of a poll based on a really amorphous topic, because the respondents have to figure out for themselves what it means.

Whatever it means, it can’t be any surprise that Duke Ellington, he of the outsized personality and musical genius, is at the top of the list.  But interesting that the MJQ is second when, except for Milt Jackson, none of them placed especially high in the polls for individual instruments. I guess the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

It surprises me that Louis Armstrong isn’t higher. He may not have been in an ascendant point in his career just then, but he’d recently appeared in a hit movie, and if jazz fans had a criticism of him, it was generally too much personality.

And the real surprise for me is Jimmy Giuffre. Was he really considered an outsize personality in 1957?

Jazz Band - Count Basie

Dance Band - Les Brown


1.       Herbie Mann

2.       Bud Shank

3.       Frank Wess

4.       Buddy Collette

5.       Sam Most

6.       Jerome Richardson

7.       Bobby Jaspar

8.       Paul Horn

9.       James Moody

10.   Dick Healey

11.   Yusef Lateef

12.   Billy Slapin

13.   Moe Koffman

Down Beat listed all the vote getters in its readers' poll, which was kinda nice for some hard working musicians who otherwise would not have seen their names in the Bible of jazz. Herbie Mann (1344 votes) and Bud Shank (1199) were the big vote getters, with Jerome Richardson the last one to get at least 100. The lower rungs of the ladder represented votes in the low two figures, so while some of them, like Yusef Lateef, represented the vision of a tiny handful of forward-thinking jazz fans, others could conceivably have made the list if they had large families. In any case, these are all folks who’ve given something to jazz, and deserve some recognition back.

Canadian Moe Koffman will probably show up better in next year’s poll. He released an album on Jubilee in ’57, but it didn’t gain much attention until the label took one of his compositions, “Blues a la Canadiana,” changed its name to “Swingin’ Shepherd Blues,” and released it as a single in 1958, where it became a hit, rising to #23 on the Billboard charts, and inspiring over 300 covers, including Count Basie, Herbie Mann, and Mantovani, so there was room for a range of interpretation there. Ella Fitzgerald and Natalie Cole recorded vocal versions. I hope Moe kept the publishing.

Dick Healey was the American member of the Australian Jazz Quartet/Quintet, which had achieved some popularity in the mid-fifties. I can find little about Billy Slapin, except that he did make one recording in 1959 with Billy Taylor.


1.       Duke Ellington    

2.       John Lewis          

3.       Jimmy Giuffre

4.       Bill Holman

5.       Quincy Jones

6.       Shorty Rogers

7.       Pete Rugolo

8.       Horace Silver

9.       Johnny Richards

10.   Stan Kenton

11.   Gerry Mulligan

12.   Bill Russo

13.   Thelonious Monk

14.   Dave Brubeck

15.   Benny Golson

16.   Ernie Wilkins

17.   Andre Previn

18.   Johnny Mandel

19.   Jack Montrose

20.   Billy Strayhorn

21.   Ralph Burns

22.   Manny Albam

23.   Charlie Mingus

24.   John Graaf

25.   George Wallington

26.   George Russell

27.   Gigi Gryce

28.   Marty Paich

29.   Al Cohn

30.   Gil Evans

As long as this list is, it has some surprising omissions, and it says something about what jazz fans of the 50s thought of when they thought of composers. It goes without saying that Ellington should lead the list, or maybe it doesn’t. He got 876 votes (most poll winners got at least 1000) and was closely challenged by John Lewis with 789, and 28 more composers were thought of more highly than the Duke by at least a few people. Johnny Richards was the end of the 100+ list, which means that Stan Kenton came up just short, but being associated with Kenton made the reputation of several composers: Richards, Pete Rugolo, Bill Holman, Bill Russo.

If people were voting today, Quincy Jones might well be right behind Ellington, but even then, his reputation was solid. Or Thelonious Monk, and what’s he doing down at #13? It took a while for jazz fans to catch up to Monk, but 1957 was already a while. George Russell, Gigi Gryce and Gil Evans are shockingly low, but where’s Mal Waldron? He was writing some great tunes at this time.

With jazz making its presence felt in the movies, and movies being the epicenter of American popular culture, I’m a little surprised that Elmer Bernstein didn’t catch the attention of the jazz public. The Man with the Golden Arm had come out just two years ago, and Sweet Smell of Success, with the Chico Hamilton Quintet playing Bernstein’s score, was hot in 1957. Gil Mellé would play an important role in movie scoring, but that was yet to come.

Chico O’Farrill was doing very important work in the fifties, and he’s completely overlooked, but I’ll have more to say about that later.


1.       Milt Jackson   

2.       Terry Gibbs    

3.       Lionel Hampton  

4.       Red Norvo

5.       Don Elliott

6.       Cal Tjader

7.       Eddie Costa

8.       Teddy Charles

9.       Larry Bunker

10.   Vic Feldman

11.   Terry Pollard

12.   Joe Roland

13.   Johnny Rae

14.   Emil Richards

One of the big landslides. The MJQ gave Milt Jackson visibility, and his star power within the MJQ translated into 2344 votes, more than triple those of Terry Gibbs. Terry Pollard was one of the very few women in instrumental jazz of that era, and it’s good to see her getting some recognition. Johnny Rae and Emil Richards might not have gone on to headline careers, but they both were in demand during this era. Richards went on to a career as one of the most sought-after percussionists in Hollywood, and both are still with us.

Miscellaneous Instrument

1.       Don Elliot (Mellophone)  1105

2.       Fred Katz (Cello)

3.       Bob Cooper (oboe)

4.       John Graas (French horn)

5.       Julius Watkins (French horn)

6.       Shorty Rogers (fluegelhorn)

7.       Jimmy Smith (organ)

8.       Candido (conga drums)

9.       Cy Touff (bass trumpet)

10.   Sidney Bechet (soprano sax)

11.   Oscar Pettiford (cello)

12.   Toots Thielemans (harmonica)

13.   Stuff Smith (violin)

14.   Ray Draper (tuba)

15.   Steve Lacy (soprano sax)

16.   Lee Strand (organ)

17.   Dick Cary (alto horn)

18.   Joe Venuti (violin)

19.   Dorothy Ashby (harp)

20.   Dave Amram (French horn)

21.   Erroll Buddle (bassoon)

22.   Ray Nance (violin)

23.   Eddie South (violin)

24.   Cal Tjader (bongos)

25.   Bill Doggett (organ)

26.   Jack Costanzo (bongos)

27.   Count Basie (organ)

Today, many of these instruments are no longer miscellaneous: soprano sax, organ, violin, percussion. And one instrument that had a category of its own, accordion, has been downgraded to miscellaneous. It’s hard to see why it had its own category even then. Art Van Damme was the landslide winner, but after that the field was so slim that Lawrence Welk, Dick Contino and Myron Floren all got votes.

Women have always found it hard to break into jazz, but even more so back then. The harp was one of the few instruments they were allowed to claim, and while Dorothy Ashby makes this list, other jazz harpists like Adele Girard and Corky Hale get short shrift. Alice McLeod was not yet on the scene—she had just moved from Detroit to Paris, to study with Bud Powell. She would make a name for herself in the 60s, but it would be her married name: Alice Coltrane.

Women don’t make much of a dent in this list, partly because there weren’t very many of them. But there’s another group of musicians who were plentiful, who were great, and are completely overlooked: the Latin jazz musicians.

I’ve already cited Chico O’Farrill as an overlooked composer. Percussionists are relegated to miscellaneous, and even so, Candido is the only Latin percussionist to be named at all. Where is Sabu Martinez? Ray Barretto? Mongo Santamaria? Chino Pozo? Where are two of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, Machito and especially Tito Puente? The only other percussionists on this list are Swedish-American Cal Tjader, and Chicagoan Jack Costanzo, who at least studied in Cuba.


1.       Ray Brown   

2.       Oscar Pettiford  

3.       Leroy Vinnegar

4.       Paul Chambers

5.       Red Mitchell

6.       Charlie Mingus

7.       Percy Heath

8.       Milt Hinton

9.       Chubby Jackson

10.   Eddie Safranski

11.   Carson Smith

12.   Teddy Kotick

13.   Ralph Pena

14.   George Duvivier

15.   Norman Bates

16.   Arvell Shaw

17.   Slam Stewart

18.   Wendell Marshall

19.   Johnnie Pate

20.   Max Bennett

21.   Walter Page

22.   Don Bagley

23.   Bill Crow

24.   Wilbur Ware

25.   Curtis Counce

26.   Bob Haggart

27.   Red Kelly

28.   Al Hall

29.   Doug Watkins

30.   Ed Jones

Ray Brown (752 votes) and Oscar Pettiford (734) virtually neck and neck. As a Prestige fan, I would have rated Doug Watkins higher. And two interesting omissions. While older, swing era players like George Duvivier, Slam Stewart, Arvell Shaw and Bob Haggart got votes, two of the bassists most associated with bebop -- Tommy Potter and Curly Russell—are completely overlooked.


1.       Shelly Manne

2.       Max Roach

3.       Joe Morello

4.       Jo Jones

5.       Chico Hamilton

6.       Gene Krupa

7.       Art Blakey

8.       Buddy Rich

9.       Philly Joe Jones

10.   Louie Bellson

11.   Roy Harte

12.   Osie Johnson

13.   Don Lamond

14.   Kenny Clarke

15.   Mel Lewis

16.   Stan Levey

17.   Sam Woodyard

18.   Connie Kay

19.   Cozy Cole

20.   Sonny Payne

21.   Art Taylor

22.   Zutty Singleton

23.   George Wettling

24.   Frank Isola

25.   Chuck Flores

26.   Gene McCarthy

27.   Larry Bunker

28.   Ray Bauduc

29.   Joe Dodge

30.   Ed Thigpen

Lots of good drummers.


1.       Jimmy Giuffre     

2.       Tony Scott   

3.       Benny Goodman   

4.       Buddy deFranco

5.       PeeWee Russell

6.       Woody Herman

7.       Jimmy Hamilton

8.       Buddy Collette

9.       Edmond Hall

10.   Pete Fountain

11.   Sam Most

12.   Artie Shaw

13.   Peanuts Hucko

14.   Rolf Kuhn

15.   Barney Bigard

16.   Buster Bailey

17.   Bobby Jones

18.   John LaPorta

19.   George Lewis

20.   Sol Yaged

21.   Gene Quill

22.   Bob Wilber

23.   Lester Young

For all of Jimmy Giuffre showing up as one of jazz’s top personalities of the year and one of the top composers of the year, he doesn’t win his instrument by all that much, 1522 votes to Tony Scott’s 1391. Benny Goodman is almost an afterthought with 454 votes. I never knew that Lester Young had played the clarinet. He did, although not in 1957.

Alto Sax

1.       Paul Desmond   1414

2.       Art Pepper   726

3.       Sonny Stitt

4.       Lee Konitz

5.       Johnny Hodges

6.       Bud Shank

7.       Julian Adderley

8.       Phil Woods

9.       Jacki McLean

10.   Zoot Sims

11.   Benny Carter 

12.   Lennie Niehaus

13.   Gene Quill

14.   Charlie Mariano

15.   Gigi Gryce

16.   Willie Smith

17.   Lou Donaldson

18.   Herb Geller

19.   Hal McKusick

20.   Ernie Henry

21.   Buddy Collette

22.   Ronnie Lang

23.   Al Belletto

24.   Earl Bostic

25.   Al Cohn

26.   Pete Brown

27.   Charlie Ventura

28.   Dick Johnson

29.   Lennie Hambro

30.   Frank Morgan

These polls, especially the readers’ polls, whether the more musically sophisticated Down Beat or the Hefner-philosophizing Playboy voters, tend to skew a little white. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the alto sax category. Yes, after the death of Charlie Parker, a clear consensus choice for king of the alto saxophone would be Paul Desmond. And all the other white guys are good and deserving, too. But lists are lists, voters are voters, and bias is bias. In 1943, Esquire magazine brought some African-American music critics on board for its critics’ poll, and for the first time, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum, Billie Holiday and Cootie Williams were poll winners. And there was a backlash, led by Stan Kenton, crying “reverse racism,” as though it would take reverse racism to elevate Armstrong, Hawkins or Lady Day.

Who’s completely missing from the poll? And don’t forget the poll goes down to about 15 votes.

Sahib Shihab (he does make the baritone list), Sonny Red (was no one in Detroit voting?), John Jenkins, Curtis Porter (Shafi Hadi), Romeo Penque, David Newman, and for that matter, Ray Charles, who was playing some alto in those days.


1.       Errol Garner   

2.       Oscar Peterson   

3.       Dave Brubeck 

4.       Horace Silver

5.       Andre Previn

6.       Thelonious Monk

7.       John Lewis

8.       Bud Powell

9.       Billy Taylor

10.   Hampton Hawes

11.   Teddy Wilson

12.   George Shearing

13.   Russ Freeman

14.   Hank Jones

15.   Count Basie

16.   Lou Levy

17.   Phineas Newborn

18.   Duke Ellington

19.   Lennie Tristano

20.   Pete Jolly

21.   Eddie Costa

22.   George Wallington

23.   Red Garland

24.   Dave McKenna

25.   Mary Lou Williams

26.   Claude Williamson

27.   Stan Kenton

28.   Marian McPartland

29.   Toshiko Akiyoshi

30.   Earl Hines

Among the missing, just from the Prestige catalog, Mal Waldron and Freddie Redd,  and I don’t really understand the omission of either of them. And, most astounding, Mose Allison.


1.       Barney Kessel    

2.       Tal Farlow  

3.       Jim Hall

4.       Johnny Smith

5.       Herb Ellis

6.       Kenny Burrell

7.       Jimmy Raney

8.       Sal Salvador

9.       Laurindo Almeida

10.   Les Paul 

11.   Howard Roberts

12.   Mundell Lowe

13.   Eddie Condon

14.   George Van Eps

15.   Billy Bauer

16.   Joe Puma

17.   Chuck Wayne

18.   Don Hund

19.   Barry Galbraith

20.   Bill Harris

21.   George Barnes

22.   Dick Garcia

23.   Jean Thielemans

24.   Steve Jordan

25.   Tony Rizzi

26.   Wilbur Wynne

Barney Kessel was ubiquitous in those days, and very good, and got double the votes of Tal Farlow.

Baritone Sax

1.       Gerry Mulligan  

2.       Harry Carney   

3.       Pepper Adams

4.       Cecil Payne

5.       Jimmy Giuffre 

6.       Ernie Caceres

7.       Gil Melle

8.       Bud Shank

9.       Charlie Ventura

10.   Al Cohn

11.   Lars Gullin

12.   Danny Bank

13.   Sahib Shihab

14.   Charlie Fowkes

15.   Virgil Gonsalves

16.   Jack Nimitz

Gerry Mulligan basically was the baritone sax in 1957, and he dominated the poll even more than Milt Jackson on vibes, 2960 to Harry Carney’s 495.

Tenor Sax

1.       Stan Getz     

2.       Sonny Rollins  

3.       Zoot Sims

4.       Bill Perkins

5.       Coleman Hawkins

6.       Lester Young

7.       Lucky Thompson

8.       Al Cohn

9.       Bob Cooper

10.   Bud Freeman

11.   John Coltrane

12.   Ben Webster

13.   Jimmy Giuffre

14.   Charlie Ventura

15.   Flip Phillips

16.   Paul Gonsalves

17.   Hank Mobley

18.   Sonny Stitt

19.   Dave Pell

20.   Bobby Jones

21.   Georgie Auld

22.   Richie Kamuca,

23.   Illinois Jacquet

24.   J.R. Monterose

25.   Johnny Griffin

26.   Paul Quinichette

27.   Sandy Mosse

28.   Warne Marsh

29.   Freddy Martin

30.   Erroll Buddle

You can’t argue with the choice of Stan Getz as tenor sax man of the year. You couldn’t have argued with Sonny Rollins, either. What you might argue with, if you were wondering about a racial bias, is whether Getz (1903 votes) was more than three times better than Rollins (652). Jazz fans were a little snobbish in the 50s, and rock and roll got more and more of the record sales and the airplay, and they snubbed some very good players like Red Prysock, Sam (The Man) Taylor, Al Sears, David “Fathead” Newman.


1.       Miles Davis    989

2.       Dizzy Gillespie   950

3.       Chet Baker

4.       Louis Armstrong

5.       Shorty Rogers

6.       Maynard Ferguson

7.       Harry James

8.       Roy Eldridge

9.       Donald Byrd

10.   Art Farmer

11.   Conte Candoli

12.   Ruby Braff

13.   Kenny Dorham

14.   Harry Edison

15.   Don Fagerquist

16.   Joe Newman

17.   Don Elliott

18.   Clark Terry

19.   Charlie Shavers

20.   Thad Jones

21.   Wild Bill Davison

22.   Buck Clayton

23.   Ray Anthony

24.   Lee Morgan

25.   Jack Sheldon

26.   Cat Anderson

27.   Billy Butterfield

28.   Johnny Windhurst

29.   Stu Williamson

Miles was on the ascendant, Dizzy definitely not on the descendent, and they were still neck (989 votes) and neck (950) in 1957.

Percussionists weren't the only great Latin jazz musicians overlooked in the fifties. Mario Bauza played in Machito's band throughout this era, and he was one of the greatest jazz trumpeters who ever lived.


1.       J. J. Johnson    

2.       Bob Brookmeyer  

3.       Kai Winding

4.       Bill Harris

5.       Frank Rosolino

6.       Jack Teagarden

7.       Jimmy Cleveland

8.       Carl Fontana

9.       Urbie Green

10.   Buddy Morrow

11.   Milt Bernhardt

12.   Vic Dickenson

13.   Frank Rehak

14.   Trummy Young

15.   Eddie Bert

16.   Ray Sims

17.   Benny Green

18.   Kid Ory

19.   Willie Dennis

20.   Melba Liston

21.   Tyree Glenn

22.   Wilbur de Paris

23.   Eddie Hubble

24.   Lawrence Brown

25.   Abe Lincoln

26.   Tommy Turk

27.   Britt Woodman

28.   Bob Enevoldsen

29.   Herbie Harper

30.   Lou McGarrity

Melba Liston and Terry Pollard are the only women to make a list on an instrument other than the harp or piano, and Pollard was a pianist first. They weren’t the only deserving ones, but most women instrumentalists in that era were relegated to all-girl orchestras. Terry Pollard led a group that took on Clark Terry in a 1953 blowing session, Cats vs. Chicks, and the chicks held their own.


Anonymous said...

Tad--About a spring semester, 1959, I lived in a rooming house on E. Jefferson St., in Iowa City, and the whole third floor was occupied by a group of music students, one of them a flutist named Larry Linkin. This kid was so good he could have played with any group in New York or L.A. and given Herbie Mann a run for his money in a cutting contest.
A couple of years ago I decided to google him up and find out what happened to him. Turns out he'd been making a pretty good living leading a cruise-ship dance band and had just retired--not exactly an ideal jazz musician's career, but at least it was steady work, in music, not as a waiter at Ginger Man or a high school music teacher.
Bird Lives,
Bob B.

Tad Richards said...

Yep, and there are jazz greats playing in Dixieland bands at Disney World, and all sorts of surprising places, making music,making a living, and having a home life.