Horns for Memphis
In addition to piano players galore, Memphis Tennessee is also home to some of the greatest horn players in the world. They have recorded with countless bands and groups and also traveled the world extensively. Regardless of style, horns players both as soloists and in ensembles have definitely made their mark.
Composer/tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd was one of the first jazz musicians to sell a million copies of a recording ("Forest Flower"). Lloyd worked with some the greats of jazz and blues including Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, Howlin' Wolf, Cannonball Adderley, B.B. King, Babatunde Olatunji, and Chico Hamilton. His musical friends/peers included luminaries such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Coleman Hawkins. Lloyd was voted "Jazz Artist of the Year" by Down Beat magazine in 1967 and was part of the first American jazz group to play in the Soviet Union by invitation. He paved the entranceway for jazz to enter the realm of rock, and has thrived for four decades. Wired magazine's James Rozzi mentioned his undeniable his kinship to John Coltrane, both sonic and spiritual.
Lloyd was born in Memphis in 1938. The city boasted a rich musical heritage, encompassing all styles of African American music and Lloyd soaked it all in. He received his first saxophone at the age of nine. As a young man Lloyd would listen to radio broadcasts of Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. He was a childhood friend of Booker Little who turned out to be a lauded trumpet player. Lloyd's teachers in Memphis were such greats as pianist Phineas Newborn and saxophonist George Coleman. While still a teenager, Lloyd played sideman for blues greats B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Ace, and Bobby Blue Bland.
At eighteen Lloyd left Memphis to study for his Master's at the University of Southern California. His evenings were spent playing in jazz clubs with Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Eric Dolphy, Billy Higgins, Scott LaFaro, and other west coast jazz titans in local clubs. In 1960, at twenty-two, Lloyd became the music director of drummer Chico Hamilton's group after Eric Dolphy left. Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo and Albert "Sparky" Stinson joined Lloyd in the band, during this period of Lloyd found his unique sound as a saxophonist. The two most memorable recordings with Hamilton, Passin' Through and Man from Two Worlds, were his own compositions. Lloyd moved to New York City in the early 1960s and played at noted jazz clubs like Birdland, the Village Vanguard, the Half-Note, Jazz Gallery, and the Five-Spot. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, and Coleman Hawkins became friends of Lloyd's during this time.
In 1964, at the age of twenty-six, Lloyd joined the Cannonball Adderley sextet, performing with Nat Adderley, Joe Zawinul, Sam Jones, and Louis Hayes. He signed with CBS Records to record as a leader, during this time and released Discovery in 1964 and Of Course, Of Course in 1965, with Roy Haynes and Tony Williams on drums, Richard Davis and Ron Carter on bass, Gabor Szabo on guitar, and Don Friedman on piano. That same year Lloyd won Down Beat magazine's "Best New Artist" award. Lloyd left the Cannonball Adderley sextet in 1965 to form his own quartet, which included Keith Jarrett on piano, Jack DeJonette on drums, and Cecil McBee on bass. Their debut release was Dream Weaver, followed by Forest Flower: Live at Moneterey in 1966. Forest Flower earned a place in history as as one of the first jazz recordings to sell a million copies.
Timing was on Lloyd's side, his acoustic quartet made a smooth crossover to the popular mass market due to heavy FM radio airplay. The quartet was the first jazz group to play at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. He also shared the stage with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cream, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. The quartet also performed in Montreux, Antibes, Molde, the Newport Jazz Festival, and the Monterey Jazz Festival. The group blended masterful jazz improvisation with other elements such as ethnic music, impressionistic harmony, and sporadic rock rhythms. Their free spirited music worked well the spirit of the 1960s, and Lloyd was free to experiment and changed constantly. Electric jazz and rock featured similar elements, and Lloyd was one of the first jazz artists to reach younger fans in the psychedelic era, paving the way for musicians like Miles Davis.
In 1967, at the age of twenty-nine, Lloyd was voted "Jazz Artist of the Year" by Down Beat magazine, and the quartet toured throughout the world, playing in China, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Bloc countries that had never been exposed to live American jazz performances. Lloyd's quartet made headlines in the New York Times, Life, and Time magazine when they were the first American jazz group invited to play in the Soviet Union. The quartet played in Tallinn in Estonia, Leningrad, and Moscow. When audience members in Tallinn heard the KGB might not let the group play, they began screaming, "Lloyd jazz! Lloyd jazz!" When Lloyd returned to Estonia in 1997, Marju Kuut--who saw his group's original performance--told Down Beat magazine's Thomas Conrad, "Europeans played in jazz, but something was missing. Lloyd was real, real American jazz. They didn't play for ... show. They played for themselves."
At the peak of his career momentum in 1971, Lloyd dropped from public sight to pursue an inner quest in Big Sur, CA. He spent a decade in solitude from the media, then broke his public silence after meeting a gifted seventeen-year-old pianist from France at big Sur named Michel Petrucciani. Lloyd's collaboration with Petrucciani led to European and Japanese tours in 1982 and 1983. Along with Petrucciani on piano and Lloyd on saxophone, Son Ship Theus played drums, and Palle Danielsson played bass; the group produced two live records: Montreux '82 and A Night in Copenhagen-- which featured Bobby McFerrin.
Charles Lloyd is an perfect example of an unrestricted trend setter who has made a tremendous impact on American Music.
Hank Crawford was born December 21, 1934 in Memphis Tennessee. Memphis was a mecca for blues and early jazz. He grew up with a school band full of up and coming musicians and developed the ability to express himself through the alto saxophone. He eventually became music director for the Ray Charles band and Charles himself encouraged him to pursue his own career as a recording artist. Crawford eventually signed with Atlantic Records.
Crawford had two jazz instrumental hits....Erroll Garner’s Misty from his 1960 ”More Soul” album and Skunky Green from the “True Blues” LP. Having a jazz instrumental hit was a rarity but Crawford managed two. Hank’s real name was Bennie Ross Crawford, he started out on piano but soon switched to alto sax.
The name Hank was given to by a local well known musician. At Manassas High School he joined a band called the Rhythm Bombers. Manassas was known for its outstanding musicians that included pianist Phineas Newborn and trumpeter Booker Little among others. These musicians helped Hank get his start as a professional musician. Hank continued his study at Tennessee State University where he picked up work with the college dance band. As a member of this group Hank got to meet and jam with visiting bands that included the likes of Charlie Parker and Ray Charles.
In 1958 Hank became a full time member of Ray’s band and played an important role in the Ray Charles’ noted recording at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
Crawford started his own band in 1963 and by the end of the decade had recorded a dozen albums for Atlantic along with the two hit singles. In the 70s he began to explore funk and soul music aimed more at the youth market. It was thought by his die-hard fans that he had abandoned the bluesy style he had been known for. But in 1983 he signed with the Milestone label and much to the delight of his loyal fans returned to the bluesy style he was known for. He also recorded and performed with Etta James, Dr. John, and Lou Rawls. He also backed up other noted musicians like B.B. King.
Crawford suffered a stroke in 2000 which limited his playing ability. But his unmistakable influence can be heard in the playing styles of many of today’s top alto saxophonists including David Sanborn among others. Hank died on January 29, 2009 at the of 74. He is survived by his sister, a son and daughter.
The Memphis Horns
The Memphis Horns were the studio horn section for Stax records. The main members and best known are Wayne Jackson, trumpet; and Andrew Love tenor saxophone. However, during the early years group membership varied to include musicians like Floyd Newman, baritone saxophone; Jack Hale, trombone; and Ben Cauley, trumpet among several others. These musicians were members of the Mar-keys, which was the house band for Stax. The duo of Wayne and Andrew spanned over 30 years and performed on many hit records including Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, “Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together”, and Elvis Presley‘s “Suspicious Minds”. The Memphis Horns performed on 83 gold and platinum recordings.
The duo also recorded in other Memphis area studios including American Sound and Royal.
Long before they were global ambassadors to the “Memphis sound,” Love and Jackson--who were born three days apart in 1941--were just kids with an early passion for music. Wayne Jackson began playing the trumpet in his hometown of West Memphis, Arkansas, at the age of eleven, while across the river in Memphis, Andrew Love was honing his skills playing at Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, where his father was the preacher.
The group scored one of Stax Records’ earliest hits with the 1961 song “Last Night.” Meanwhile, Love was cutting his teeth down the road at Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records, where he was said to be Mitchell’s favorite horn player.