Ain’t no sunshine, JazzBabies, when it’s gone, and the sunshine has been gone this week more than we like in San Diego. Those of us who headed south to get out from under the pale gray “cloudy bright” skies of the Pacific Northwest are feelin’ the gloom.
Fortunately, it won’t last long. She said. In the meantime, we have cool jazz to warm us up and keep the gloom at bay.
Today’s post brings a happy confluence of drummer Frank Butler, pianist/composer Gerald Wiggins and one-time child tap-dancer, later jazz man, vibraphonist Callen Radcliffe Tjader, Jr. Each of their stories could fill a book and taken together – well, JazzBabies, every story is a good one.
Cal Tjader is here with his early quartet on the tune “A Fifth for Frank,” which was written by Gerald Wiggins for drummer Frank Butler. Tjader’s quartet at the time of the recording included – in addition to himself – Wiggins on piano, Eugene Wright on bass and Bill Douglass on drums. The album, Cal Tjader’s Quartet, was released by Fantasy in 1956.
Butler was a drummer who was not well known but praised highly among his fellow musicians including drummer Jo Jones who claimed Butler was “the greatest drummer in the world.” High praise at a time when drummers like Buddy Rich were pounding the skins and creating their own storms.
Butler performed with many of the greats including Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Art Pepper in the 50s and 60s but didn’t achieve the kind of public fame that others had. It’s been said that there are many terrific writers and artists and musicians who toil in the vineyards, pay their dues, but just never become well-known. In Butler’s case, he also struggled with addiction which never helps anybody.
Gerald Wiggins started his long and successful career in the 40s and continued into the 80s and 90s playing West Coast clubs when he was not touring.
Cal Tjader was born to a pair of vaudevillians and yes, true story, he became a young tap dancer who performed in the Bay Area as “Tjader Junior” before, many years later, becoming the terrific vibraphonist we know now.
Didn’t I tell you? All stories are good stories. And now for some good jazz.
Enjoy, JazzBabies, enjoy.