johnny o'neal

Jazziversaries October 10th set 1

Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet) 1942 ::  Jazziversary greeting to Cecil Bridgewater. Cecil is an American hard bop jazz trumpeter.

Cecil and brother Ron formed the Bridgewater Brothers Band in 1969, and in the 1970s he was married to Dee Dee Bridgewater. In 1970 he played with Horace Silver, and following this with Thad Jones and Mel Lewis from 1970 to 1976.

Also in the 1970s he played with Max Roach, starting a decades-long association. Elsewhere he has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Randy Weston, Charles McPherson, Joe Henderson, Roy Brooks, Abdullah Ibrahim and Sam Rivers. Bridgewater’s first disc as a leader appeared in 1993. Bridgewater has also composed works premiered by the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra and Meet the Composer.

Cecil Bridgewater has become a great supporter of The Jazz Foundation of America in their mission to save the homes and the lives of America’s elderly jazz and blues musicians including musicians that survived Hurricane Katrina. Cecil performed at the 2008 Benefit Concert, “A Great Night in Harlem” at the World Famous Apollo Theater.

He currently teaches as adjunct faculty at Manhattan School of Music, New School, William Paterson University, and The Juilliard School.

Junior Mance (piano) 1928 :: Happy jazziversary Junior Mance. Julian Clifford Mance, Jr. (known as Junior Mance, is an American jazz pianist and composer.
In 1947 Mance left Roosevelt College to join Gene Ammons’ band and began his recording career with Gene.

He joined Lester Young in 1949 for almost two years, and rejoined Ammons several months in 1951 before being drafted into the U. S. Army. He served in the 36th Army Band at Fort Knox, Kentucky along with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.

After his discharge from the Army in 1953, he became part of the house rhythm section at the Bee Hive Jazz Club in Chicago for a year, and accompanied musicians such as Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Sonny Stitt, and many others.

In 1954 Mance joined and toured with Dinah Washington. Among the numerous recordings he made with her, there are two that really stand out in his memory: Dinah Jams and Jam Session. They are two live albums also featuring Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Clark Terry, Maynard Ferguson, Herb Geller, Harold Land, Keter Betts, George Morrow, Richie Powell.

In 1956 he reunited with Cannonball Adderley, becoming a member of Cannonball’s first organized working band. The band did a series of recordings on Mercury Records.

Mance joined Dizzy Gillespie’s band in 1958, a period Junior considers one of the highlights of his career. Besides the joy and fun of playing with Dizzy, he remembers this period as a great learning experience in musicianship, showmanship, and just about everything related to the business of music.

In 1961 he decided to form his own trio, following the release of his first recording as a leader, Junior (Verve Records). In between gigs with his trio, with bassist Ben Tucker and Bobby Thomas on drums, he played and recorded with the Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis/Johnny Griffin Quintet. With his trio he also accompanied singer Joe Williams in 1963/64.

In 1988 Junior Mance became a member of the faculty at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. He teaches classes in Blues, Ballads, and also private lessons.

During the 1990s Mance has been part of a very elite group called “100 Gold Fingers”. This is a group which tours Japan every other year, consisting of ten outstanding jazz pianists.

On various tours the group has included people such as Hank Jones, John Lewis, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Barron, Ray Bryant, Roger Kellaway, Gene Harris, Marian McPartland, Barry Harris, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lynne Arriale, Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Green, Duke Jordan, Joanne Brackeen, Monty Alexander, Dave McKenna, Renee Rosnes, Mulgrew Miller, Harold Mabern as well as Junior and a rhythm section consisting of bassist Bob Cranshaw and either Alan Dawson or Grady Tate on drums.

On November 21, 1997, at Tampa, Florida, Junior Mance was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame.

The Junior Mance Trio (Jackie Williams, Hide Tanaka, and guest vocalist José James) released their first CD, Live At Cafe Loup, in 2007. Junior Mance is still active in NYC, Japan, and all over the world.

Chuchito Valdes (piano) 1966 :: Feliz jazziversarie a Chuchito Valdes! Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, pianist, composer, and arranger Jesus “Chuchito” Valdés, Jr. is the third-generation manifestation of a Cuban jazz piano dynasty that includes his father, Chucho Valdés, and late grandfather, Bebo Valdés.

The oldest of five siblings, Valdés was a child prodigy, attending and graduating from La Escuela de Musica Ignacio Cervantes. He had his first professional gig at the age of 16, working with Cuban singer and trumpeter Bobby Carcasses, and also accompanied singers Pello El Afrokan and Anibel Lopez for a time.

In the mid-’80s Valdés was a member of the Cuban jazz combo Sonido Contemporáneo, and by the late ’90s he had taken his father’s spot in the renowned Irakere band when the elder Valdés opted to go solo.

Eventually Chuchito followed suit, leading his own band and touring behind his fiery brand of Afro-Cuban jazz.

He released a debut album, Encantado, in 2002 on Town Crier Records, following it with La Timba in 2002 and Herencia in 2004, both on J&N Records, and Keys of Latin Jazz in 2007 from Sony BMG International. Valdés continues to tour and record, making his home in Cancun, Mexico.

Johnny O’Neal (piano)1956 :: Jazziversary greetings to Johnny O’Neal.  Johnny is an American Neo-bop jazz pianist and vocalist. His playing ranges from the technically virtuosic to the tenderest of ballad interpretations. Though unique in style, he is influenced by many jazz elders, including Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum. He has led many recording dates with jazz heavyweights such as Russell Malone and many others. He is a 1997 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

In 1974, Johnny moved to Birmingham, Alabama and worked as a musician, never needing a day job to make ends meet. In Birmingham he worked with local noted jazz musicians, such as Jerry Grundhofer, Dave Amaral, Cleveland Eaton, and Ray Reach.

He moved to New York City to perform with Clark Terry in 1981, and also landed a regular job at the Blue Note, accompanying such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Nancy Wilson, Joe Pass and Kenny Burrell.

He was a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers for two years from 1982-1983 and made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985.

A 2006 DVD “Tight” captured O’Neal at the height of his powers. Included is an interview with the late pianist Mulgrew Miller, who stated,
“In my generation of musicians there are two who are probably the most naturally talented. They both happen to be from Detroit. One is Kenny Garrett, the well-known saxophonist. The other is pianist Johnny O’Neal.”
“There are so many outstanding things about Johnny’s playing. Two or three of the most outstanding: number one, the touch. Johnny has a million dollar touch. Very few people touch the piano like that to get that kind of sound and feeling…. The other thing is his feeling of swing, which is so natural. Then there’s Johnny’s personality, so engaging. And Johnny can play a ballad like few people, if any. I’ve always held his talent in the highest regard, and I think he’s a very special artist.”