Thursday, June 20, 2013

Harry Babasin & The Jazzpickers (1958)

I thought that I would put up a quick post this afternoon. Truth be told, I have a bit of a backlog of entries at the moment. There are quite a few in the hopper, but I've been sidelined with some minor health issues and I should really be staying away from the computer. But I hate seeing the weeks fly-by without new posts, so here is most of the February 3, 1958 episode of ABC-TV's Stars of Jazz television program hosted by singer, pianist, and songwriter Bobby Troup (yes, he of Route 66 song and Emergency TV fame). Bobby's guests that week included bandleader turned manager Charlie Barnet, vocalist Pat Morrissey, and Harry Babasin. I believe I have mentioned this TV show before, but I will take this opportunity to point the curious reader to this wonderful blog which tackles the show in great detail.

Babasin, an unsung hero of jazz music on the West Coast of California, was initially a bassist who played with everyone from Louis Armstrong to Charlie Parker. He was also one of the first experimenters with the cello in jazz music. Of course my short shrift is not doing Harry justice and for a wealth of excellent information on Babasin and some of his more interesting musical activities of note, I highly recommend this page created by his son Von.

A final note. The guitarist in these clips is another talented obscurity by the name of Dempsey Wright, a fellow whose playing I have only recently been digging into. With 2 LPs of his own to his discographical credit, plus 3 appearances as a sideman, his recorded legacy is certainly less than proportionate to his chops. It's a shame, but thankfully we have these few more minutes of music to enjoy from someone else that may have been forever lost in the cracks of time. A special thank you to Babasin's son, Pierre, for making these clips available.

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