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Jazziversaries February 11th

Little Johnny Taylor (vocal) - 1943 -2002 ::  was an American blues soul singer, who made recordings throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and continued public performances through the 1980s and 1990s.

Born in Gregory, Arkansas, United States, he is frequently confused with his contemporary and near namesake Johnnie Taylor, especially since the latter made a cover version of the song that Little Johnny Taylor was most famous for, “Part Time Love” (1963), and the fact that both men began their careers as gospel singers.

Little Johnny Taylor moved to Los Angeles in 1950, and sang with the Mighty Clouds of Joy before moving into secular music. Influenced by Little Willie John, he first recorded as an R&B artist for the Swingin’ record label.

However, he did not achieve major success until signing for San Francisco-based Fantasy Records’ subsidiary label, Galaxy. His first hit was the mid-tempo blues “You’ll Need Another Favor,” sung in the style of Bobby Bland, with arrangement by Ray Shanklin and produced by Cliff Goldsmith. The follow-up, “Part Time Love”, became his biggest hit, reaching #1 in the U.S. Billboard R&B chart, and # 19 on the pop chart, in October 1963. However, follow-ups on the Galaxy label were much less successful.

By 1971, Taylor had moved to the Ronn label subsidiary of Jewel Records in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he had his second R&B Top 10 hit with “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing”. The following year, he had another hit with “Open House at My House”. While at Ronn, Taylor also recorded some duets with Ted Taylor (also unrelated).

Though he recorded only sparingly during the 1980s and 1990s, he remained an active performer until his death in May 2002 in Conway, Arkansas.

Martin Drew (drums) - 1944-2010 :: was an English jazz drummer, who played with Ronnie Scott  and Oscar Peterson.

He played his first professional engagement at thirteen. Studying with the lateGeorge Fierstone gave Martin a solid musical and technical background.

Drew had a quintet called “Our Band” with Dick Morrissey, tenor saxophone, Jim Mullen, guitar (originally Louis Stewart), John Critchinson, piano, and Ron Mathewson, double bass.

Drew was also a member of a trio led by Eddie Thompson. He was often heard playing on BBC Radio 2’s Sounds of Jazz programme in the 1970s which was introduced by Peter Clayton on Sunday evenings.

Martin Drew was best known for his extensive work in Oscar Peterson and Ronnie Scott’s groups, with which he became an international name. He also played at Ronnie Scott’s club with many famous visiting U.S. jazz musicians.

From 1997-2000 Martin Drew led a quartet with Mornington Lockett, tenor saxophone, Gareth Williams, piano, and Laurence Cottle, electric bass.

In 2000, Drew formed the Celebrating The Jazz Couriers quintet with Mornington Lockett. The group played the music of the original Jazz Couriers, a group led by Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes. This new band was completed by Nigel Hitchcock on tenor saxophone, Steve Melling on piano, and Andrew Cleyndert on double bass. The group won the 2002 British Jazz Award for Best Small Group.

The New Couriers band reformed in 2003 with Paul Morgan on double bass and Jim Hart on vibraphone. Lockett and Melling returned on tenor saxophone and piano.

Otis Clay (vocal) - 1942  ::  is an American R&B and soul singer, who started in gospel music

 After singing with local gospel group, the Voices of Hope, he returned to Mississippi to sing with the Christian Travelers, before settling in Chicago in 1957. There, he joined a series of gospel vocal groups including the Golden Jubilaires, the Famous Blue Jay Singers, the Holy Wonders, and the Pilgrim Harmonizers, before making his first solo secular recordings in 1962. They were unissued, and Clay joined the Gospel Songbirds, who recorded in Nashville in 1964 and who also included Maurice Dollison who sang R&B under the name Cash McCall, and then the Sensational Nightingales.

In 1965 Clay signed with One-derful! Records in Chicago, to make secular recordings. After releasing a series of gospel-tinged soul records, his first hit came in 1967 with “That’s How It Is (When You’re In Love)”, which reached # 34 on the R&B chart, followed by “A Lasting Love” (# 48 R&B). In 1968 the record company folded and his contract was bought by Atlantic Records, who launched their subsidiary Cotillion label with Clay’s version of the Sir Douglas Quintet hit, “She’s About A Mover”, produced at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals. The record became Clay’s biggest pop hit, reaching # 97 on the Hot 100 (# 47 R&B). However, follow-ups on Cotillion, including “Hard Working Woman” produced by Syl Johnson, and “Is It Over?” produced by Willie Mitchell in Memphis, were less successful.

Clay moved to Mitchell’s Hi Records in 1971, and made many of his best known soul blues records for the label. His biggest hit came with “Trying To Live My Life Without You,” a # 24 R&B hit in late 1972, which he followed up with “If I Could Reach Out”. “Trying To Live My Life Without You” was later covered by Bob Seger, whose version made # 5 on the pop chart in 1981.[4] After several more Hi singles and the album I Can’t Take It, Clay moved to Kayvette Records, where he had his last national hit single in 1977, “All Because Of Your Love” (# 44 R&B). He later recorded for the Elka and Rounderlabels, as well as his own Echo Records for whom he recorded the original version of “The Only Way is Up” in 1980.

He has remained a popular live act in Europe and Japan, as well as the US, and has recorded two live albums, Soul Man: Live in Japan and Respect Yourself, recorded live at the Lucerne Blues Festival inSwitzerland. In the 1990s he also recorded two soul albums for Bullseye Blues: I’ll Treat You Right and the Willie Mitchell-produced This Time Around. In 2007, he recorded the gospel album Walk a Mile in My Shoes.

He has been a nominee for a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance. As a resident of Chicago’s West Side, he is actively involved in community-based economic and cultural initiatives, including the development of The Harold Washington Cultural Center.

Sergio Mendes (piano) - 1941 :: Feliz aniversário para to Sergio Mendes. Sergio s a Brazilian musician. He has over fifty-five releases, and plays bossa nova heavily crossed with jazz and funk.[1] He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2012 as co-writer of the song “Real In Rio” from the animated film Rio.

Mendes is married to Gracinha Leporace who has performed with her husband since the early 1970s. He has collaborated with many artists through the years, including the Black Eyed Peas, with whom he re-recorded a version of his original breakthrough hit “Mas Que Nada”.

Mendes attended the local conservatory with hopes of becoming a classical pianist. As his interest in jazz grew, he started playing in nightclubs in the late-1950s just as bossa nova, a jazz-inflected derivative of samba, was emerging. Mendes played with Antonio Carlos Jobim (regarded as a mentor) and many U.S. jazz musicians who toured Brazil.

Mendes formed the Sexteto Bossa Rio and recorded Dance Moderno in 1961. Touring Europe and the United States, Mendes recorded albums with Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann and playedCarnegie Hall. Mendes moved to the U.S. in 1964 and cut two albums under the Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘65 group name with Capitol Records and Atlantic Records.

Sergio became full partners with Richard Adler, a Brooklyn-born American who had previously brought Bossa Trés plus two dancers, Joe Bennett and a Brazilian partner, to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, in 1963. He was also accompanied by Antonio Carlos Jobim; Flavio Ramos, and Aloisio Olivera, a Record and TV producer from Rio. The Musicians Union, only allowed this group to appear on one TV show; one club appearance (Basin Street East) before ordering them to leave the U.S.

When the new Group, Brasil ‘65 was formed, Shelly Mann, Bud Shank and other West Coast musicians, got Sergio and the others into the local Musicians Union. Adler and Mendes formed Brasil ‘65 which consisted of Jorge Ben, Wanda Sá, and Rosinha de Valença, as well as the Sergio Mendes Trio. The group recorded albums for Atlantic and Capitol.

When sales were tepid, he replaced his Brazilian born vocalist Wanda de Sá with the distinctive voice of Chicago native Lani Hall (who learned Mendes’ Portuguese material phonetically), switched to Herb Alpert’s A&M label, and released Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes and Brasil ‘66, an album that went platinum based largely on the success of the single “Mas Que Nada” (a Jorge Ben cover) and the personal support of Alpert, with whom Mendes toured regularly.

Though his early singles with Brasil ‘66 (most notably “Mas Que Nada”) met with some success, Mendes really burst into mainstream prominence when he performed the Oscar-nominated Burt Bacharach and Hal David song “The Look of Love” on the Academy Awards telecast in April 1968. Brasil ‘66’s version of the song quickly shot into the top 10, peaking at No. 4[2] and eclipsing Dusty Springfield’s version from the soundtrack of the movie, Casino Royale. Mendes spent the rest of 1968 enjoying consecutive top 10 and top 20 hits with his follow-up singles, “The Fool on the Hill” and “Scarborough Fair.” From 1968 on, Mendes was arguably the biggest Brazilian star in the world[1] and enjoyed immense popularity worldwide, performing in venues as varied as stadium arenas and the White House, where he gave concerts for both Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

By the time Mendes released his Grammy-winning Elektra album Brasileiro in 1992, he was the undisputed master of pop-inflected Brazilian jazz. The late-1990s lounge music revival brought retrospection and respect to Mendes’ oeuvre, particularly the classic Brasil ‘66 albums.

Russ  Freeman  (guitar)- 1960 :: Many happy returns to guitarist Russ Freeman. Russ is a smooth jazz artist of multiple genres, composer and bandleader. He studied for a time at UCLA and CalArts, but remained somewhat obscure before leading the studio-formed contemporary jazz band The Rippingtons in 1986.

Freeman and his manager, Andi Howard, also formed Peak Records together in 1994. A producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Freeman also plays bass, keyboards and drums. His music can be heard during The Weather Channel's “Local on the 8s” segments and his song “Brave New World” is included in their 2008 compilation release, The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II. Freeman originally conceived of the Rippingtons as a changing lineup of strong contemporary jazz musicians. After releasing his debut solo album, Nocturnal Playground, in 1985, Freeman assembled the first version of the band, which featured David Benoit on piano and Brandon Fields, Dave Koz, and Kenny G on saxophones, for the appropriately titled Moonlighting (1986).

Kilimanjaro, the first Rippingtons album to break into the pop charts, followed in 1988. As of 1989’s Tourist in Paradise, the group was contracted to the GRP label. 1990’s Welcome to the St. James Club and 1991’s Curves Ahead both topped the contemporary jazz best-seller charts, and 1992’s Weekend in Monaco was also a popular release. By 1993, the Rippingtons had solidified into a steady six-piece group including Freeman, Dave Kochanski on keyboards, Jeff Kashiwa on saxophone, Kim Stone on bass, Tony Morales on drums, and Steve Reid on percussion. That year saw the release of Live in L.A. In 1994, Freeman teamed with old partner David Benoit for The Benoit/Freeman Project and later in the year came Sahara, which altered the band’s billing from “The Rippingtons Featuring Russ Freeman” to “Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons.” In 1995, Freeman released a solo Christmas album, Holiday, followed by the eighth Rippingtons album, Brave New World, in 1995.

Hey, well I tried to resist using the obvious with Sergio, but you know that is one hell of a great tune! Defy you not to want to go all carnival when you hear that number!

And all you February 11th folks be getting all carnival on your good selves today! Shake a tail feather and leave a trail to the stars as you make the most of the year to come! Great times to you all!!

Thanks as always to AAJ & JBC for the guidance,

Huge respect to the You Tube Massive for taking the time and trouble to post so much great material

Hugs, cuddles and shoulder bumps to all the blog followers, thank you for your support! 

And thanks to You for just passin’ thru’

Walk tall,

Speak low,

Go placidly


  1. blewnotes posted this