THE “JFL” QUINTET: New Jazz Frontiers from Washington
Ray Codrington (tp) Andy White (as) Harry Killgo (p) Walter Booker, Jr. (b) Carl “Mickey” Newman (drs)
New York City; July 17, 1961
Aw-ite (4:03) (Ray Codrington)
Eugly’s Tune (5:56) (Andy White)
Hominy Grits (6:16) (Ray Codrington)
Dancing in the Dark (3:31) (Dietz – Schwartz)
Cici’d Delight (5:01) (Andy White)
Nairod (4:29) (Ray Codrington)
Polka Dots and Moonbeams (5:10) (Burke – Van Heusen)
Delories (5:25) (Andy White)
At just about the mid-point of 1961, Cannonball Adderley reported to Riverside from Washington, D. C., that he had come across a most unusual and intriguing group of young musicians, going by the name of “The JFK Quintet” – their use of the president’s initials would seem to involve feelings that they too are youthfully adventurous and inclined to be impatient with things conventional and hide-bound.
A cooperatively organized unit, featuring 18-year-old altoist Andy White (their musical director and general spokesman) and trumpeter Ray Codrington, the “JFK” offers a highly personal musical approach that ranges from the soulful to the avant-garde (White sometimes suggests Cannonball, at other times Ornette Coleman!). This album, recorded at Adderley’s suggestion and supervised by him, marks the fist dick appearance of a group who – among other things – indicated how excitingly and freshly young musicians can fuse several of the presumably disparate forces at work in jazz today.
To describe the quintet, we have enlisted the aid of a young Washington friend of theirs: writer and jazz enthusiast, Chips Bayen.
Original compositions by Andrew White and Ray Codrington make up most of the music in the JFK Quintet’s swinging Riverside debut. Although Andrew is drawn more toward the atonal than Ray, their writing styles seem to complement each other. White’s approach can be compared to that of an impressionistic painter. He harmonically suggests an idea with a few spare lines in sound rather than a detailed delineation.
Humor is shared by both men in the music of this album, as indicated by the titles of the original tunes. Ray explains that Aw-ite is a blues with an eight-bar channel. It could also be described, as a sould translation of “all-right.” Nairod (an inversion of Dorian) is a brisk Milestonish romp that is based on the Dorlan mode. Hominy Frits captures a spirit that anyone who has eaten grits in the early morning on the other side of the cotton curtain will recognize without any difficulty. Note, in particular, Andrew’s alto as it calls “come and get these grits” at the beginning of his solo. Reminiscences of charming ladies inspired Andy’s Delories and Cici’s Delight. Delories is a straight-up swinger. On the other hand, Cici is full of surprises: there are sudden rhythmic stops but always a return to a pulsating flow. (since she is a musician in her own right, Cici should indeed be delighted.) Eugly’s Tune is dedicated to an anonymous soul who is considered fascinatingly ugly.
White’s versions of the two standards included here – are decide contrasts to each other. The former is a hip and swinging dance, while Polka Dots emphasizes the lyrical side of the quintet.
ANDREW WHITE was born in Washington D.C., but spent his early years in Nashville, Tennessee. He knew enough about what he was doing musically to be writing arrangements for the Tennessee State A & I dance band at the age of 16. Thanks to the gift of perfect pitch, plus an extensive musical background, plus hard work, Andy is now, at 18, a straight A student in the music department of Howard University. He is also an accomplished oboist. His musical favorites run the gamut form Bach and Handel to Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane.
RAY CODRINGTON was, coincidentally, born in Nashville, but he and White were not to meet until many years later in Washington. Ray grew up in Dunn, North Carolina, and acquired a B.S. in psychology from Howard in 1958. Shortly thereafter, the “powers that be” in the Army band at Fort Meade decided that Ray’s talents could be best utilized by blowing taps and repeat every day, thus unintentionally making a swinging contribution t the JFK Quintet. Ray is currently doing graduate work in the psychology department at Howard. His favorites include Clark Terry, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and ray Charles’ trumpeter Phil Guilbeau.
Pianist Harry Killgo is a Washington native who, although he was a mathematics major while at Howard University, had a strong interest in music. His yearning for music lasted through several years spent working at the National Institute of Health. Finally, about five years ago, he stopped merely yearning and actually began studying piano. Harry’s favorites include Wynton Kelly, Tommy Flanagan, and Hank Jones. The group actually came into being by was of session in the basement of Harry’s home, at which his neighbor, bassist Walter Booker, and later the others hears here first discovered how much they enjoyed playing together.
Drummer Carl “Mickey” Newman attended junior college in South Carolina, then finished an X-ray technician’s course at Freedmen’s Hospital as top man in his class. Although interested I percussion for as long as he can remember. Mickey didn’t acquire a setoff drums until about three years ago. His amazing progress in a comparatively short time speaks for itself in this album. His favorites include Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Albert Heath, Philly Joe Jones, Louis Hayes.
Walter Booker, Jr., took a roundabout route to arrive at his instrument. At first he was interested in piano, then saxophone. It was not until after earning a B.S. in psychology from Morehouse College in Atlanta, followed by a stint in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, that he finally began to delve into the intricacies of the bass fiddle. Hearing Paul Chambers helped Walter to make up his mind, and he has been playing bass ever since. He loves to play: you can surely hear that in the propulsive drive that he sets down for the rest of the closely knit rhythm section.
One unusual advantage enjoyed by the JFK is that they have been able to work regularly together since the beginning of 1961. This is the direct result of the faith in the group felt by Tony Taylor, who (together with his business partner, Angelo Alvino) has provided them with a showcase at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington. (In the beginning it was Tony’s suggestion that they adopt JFK as a symbol of the fact that they were, musically, moving toward new frontiers.) Thus the quintet was there at the Caverns, swinging, on the night Cannonball happened by. He stopped to listen and to show his perceptiveness, and Riverside was able to take it from there.
The heading “A Cannonball Adderley presentation” designates a series of albums – of which this is the tenth – conceived, organized and supervised by the many-faceted Julian Adderley, already known as a major instrumentalist, leader of a top-ranked quintet, an incisive and articulate writer on jazz subjects and a highly perceptive judge of jazz talent. On these LPs, Cannonball spotlights either completely new (as in the present case) or comparatively neglected artists he considers to be particularly worthy of attention.
Some previous albums in this series include -
BUDD JOHNSON and The Four Brass Giants (RLP 343; Stereo 9343)
Spellbound: Clifford Jordan quartet (RLP 340: Stereo 9340)
The Jazz Brothers: MANGIONE BROTHERS Sextet (RLP 335; Stereo 9335)
Sound of the Wide Open Spaces: JAMES CLAY and DAVID ‘FATHEAD’ NEWMAN (RLP 327; Stereo 1178)
Produced by JULIAN “CANNONBALL” ADDERLEY
Recording Engineer: RAY FOWLER
Recorded and mastered at Plaza Sound Studios
Album design: KEN DEARDOFF
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, New York