Carmell Jones Quartet – Previously Unreleased Los Angeles Session
In August 1960, 24-year old trumpet player Carmell Jones left his Kansas City home-town and hopped a bus to Los Angeles, intent on hitting the West Coast jazz scene. There, his impact was immediate and would prove to be memorable. He was quickly part of a quartet with pianist Forrest Westbrook, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Bill Schwemmer.
They rehearsed at Westbrook’s apartment at 2021 Sta. Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, where this unreleased material was recorded at the end of that month. It was an amazing session, in which Carmell, oozing confidence and assertiveness, demonstrated a fresh, virile and imaginative style, with a warm ballad tone and an authoritatively implacable swing at up tempo. The highly responsive rhythm section locked right on him all the way, and also revealed Forrest Westbrook as a highly talented and sensitive pianist, with an advanced concept of improvisation, and a built-in propensity for swinging hard. Along with the pungently powerful Peacock and the driving Schwemmer, they provided an ideally vigorous support for Carmell Jones, who, unbelievably soon, would come to be regarded as among the finest trumpeters on the West Coast. These never before released recordings, his first on the Coast, show why.
1. Willow Weep for Me (Ronell) - 7:25 2. If I Love Again (Oakland-Murray) - 6:02 3. Ruby (Ray Charles) - 6:27 4. For Every Man There’s a Woman (Arlen-Robin) - 5:15 5. Baubles, Bangles and Beads (Wright-Forrest) - 4:46 6. Airegin (Sonny Rollins) - 9:05
Alternate takes: 7. Willow Weep for Me (Ronell) - 9:31 8. If I Love Again (Oakland-Murray) - 7:07 9. Ruby (Ray Charles) - 5:54 10. For Every Man There’s a Woman (Arlen-Robin) - 4:14
Personnel: CARMELL JONES QUARTET
Carmell Jones (trumpet (out on #6)) , Forrest Westbrook (piano) , Gary Peacock (bass) , Bill Schwemmer (drums)
Recorded at Forrest Westbrook studio, in Santa Monica, California, August 1960
Original reel-to-reel tape recordings: Forrest Westbrook
Analog-to-digital transfer by Joe Sidore
Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol
Special thanks to Leslie Westbrook
Dedicated to Marcella, Leslie and Yvonne
"For years, trumpeter Carmell Jones was thought to have made his first recording in October 1960 in Los Angeles on a date led by tenor saxophonist Curtis Amy for the Pacific Jazz label. Two months earlier, Jones, at age 24, had left Kansas City and traveled to Los Angeles in search of studio work as a sideman. He recorded with Amy and then Bud Shank before recording his first album as a leader in June 1961—The Remarkable Carmell Jones for Pacific Jazz. Now with the release of The Carmell Jones Quartet (Fresh Sound), we learn that Jones actually recorded in Los Angeles two months earlier shortly after he arrived in the city in August 1960.
A little back story to this album: Soon after the passing of jazz pianist Forrest Westbrook in April 2014, I asked Leslie Westbrook, Forrest's daughter, if her father made tapes. She said there were several. Eager to get her father's music out to jazz fans, she wondered what to do. I put her in touch with Fresh Sound's Jordi Pujol, who has just released the album of previously unissued material with Jones on trumpet, Westbrook on piano, Gary Peacock on bass and Bill Schwemmer on drums. Playing matchmaker is gratifying work when music sounds this good.
Born in Kansas City in 1936, Jones graduated from high school in 1954 and enlisted in the Air Force, where he played trumpet. When he was discharged in 1958, he used the G.I. Bill to enroll at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. There, Jones befriended Bill Hardy, a professor, who was hugely impressed after hearing Jones perform. In need of money, Jones dropped out of college during his senior year to become a railroad porter.
Meanwhile, Hardy moved to Los Angeles to take a post at Occidental College. In July 1960, he wrote Jones, insisting he come out to California to gig and look for recording work, inviting him to stay with him and his wife. So Jones did, and soon he connected with Westbrook, Peacock and Schwemmer. They formed a working quartet.
Fortunately, Westbrook had a studio in his Santa Monica apartment that was perfect for rehearsing. Toward the end of August, they decided to run tape. The results are on the new CD and they are spectacular. First, the sound is professional studio quality, with perfect miking and sound levels. Second, the music is stunning. Jones was like the second coming of Clifford Brown, with a thick, open sound to his horn that revealed a strong technique and deep sensitivity. Westbrook is a standout here, too. Not well known among jazz fans, he was rather reclusive on the West Coast as a recording artist, appearing only on several Si Zentner big band albums in the early 1960s and an avant-garde release with Gil Mellé in 1968 among others. So hearing him at length here is quite rare and rewarding. Peacock, who would later play with Bill Evans, is woody, spirited and rock solid, while Schwemmer has a firm, delicate touch with brushes and sticks.
The new CD features six tracks plus four alternates. The playlist is Willow Weep for Me, If I Love Again, Ruby, For Every Man There's a Woman and Baubles, Bangles and Beads. On the final track, Airegin, Westbrook plays a nine-minute version of the Sonny Rollins standard with Jones out. The result is fabulous. I'm looking forward to hearing more of Forrest Westbrook when the newly discovered material is released.
Marc Myers (June 2, 2015)
2. Rifftides / June 1, 2015
Having proved himself in the jazz milieu of Kansas City, in 1960 the 24-year-old trumpeter Carmell Jones (1936-1996) quit his job as a railroad porter and moved to Los Angeles in search of full-time work in music. He was quick to impress bassist Red Mitchell, alto saxophonist Bud Shank and tenor saxophonist Harold Land. His recordings with them, with Gerald Wilson’s big band, and later with Art Blakey were to bring him attention and acclaim. Shortly after his arrival in L.A., Jones worked in a quartet with other emerging musicians—pianist Forrest Westbrook, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Bill Schwemmer. Westbrook’s apartment served as a studio where he recorded their rehearsals on a reel-to-reel stereo tape machine. For 55 years, those tapes were unheard by anyone but the musicians and Westbrook’s family and friends.
Following Westbrook’s death last year at 87, his daughter Leslie told Jordi Pujol of Fresh Sound Records about the tapes. The result is an album that finds Jones with the imagination and verve that led jazz expert John William Hardy, photographer William Claxton and critic Joachim-Ernst Berendt to issue enthusiastic reports about him after they heard him in Kansas City. Now, we hear Jones in his early west coast days, eleven months before The Remarkable Carmell Jones, his first released Pacific Jazz album as a leader.
In common with a legion of other young trumpeters in the 1950s and 1960s, Jones’s full sound and dazzling technique owed much to Clifford Brown. If he was inclined to an excess of finger-flicking grace notes, he balanced that manifestation of self-consciousness or nervousness with symmetry of phrasing that could be stunning on ballads. The prime example of his lyricism here is on the alternate take of “Willow Weep for Me, in which he uses a cup mute and overflows the Ann Ronell song with blues feeling. With the horn open, the warmth of his tone is remarkable on the first take of “Willow,” “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” and two takes each of “If I Love Again;” “Ruby,” Heinz Roemheld’s 1953 hit from the film Ruby Gentry; and Harold Arlen’s “For Every Man There’s a Woman.”
Peacock, at 25 a veteran of work with Shank, Don Ellis, Shorty Rogers, Barney Kessel and Paul Horn, was deep into the characteristics of technique, timekeeping and harmonic mastery that were to take him to the top levels of jazz, including his three decades in the Keith Jarrett Trio. “His development,” Shank told me in 1998, “was phenomenal. He turned into one of the most creative bass players that ever happened.” Drummer Schwemmer, a friend of Peackock, has a lower profile. His time concept melds nicely with Peacock’s here, his cymbal work is noteworthy, and he has effective exchanges of four-bar phrases on several tracks. He evidently left active playing after the 1960s.
Westbrook’s solos and accompaniments shine throughout the album. In that relaxed second take of “Willow Weep for Me,” he negotiates piquant intervals in the solo melody he creates. He simulates bent notes in a manner reminiscent of Jimmy Rowles, a contemporary whose work Westbrook no doubt knew. The rhythm section plays “Airegin” without Jones. Westbrook is astonishing on the Sonny Rollins tune. He brings together bent notes, unconventional intervals, keyboard touch in a range from delicate to dynamic, and more. His headlong solo has stylistic allusions to Bud Powell and Lennie Tristano. Most of all, it communicates the sense of joy and discovery that illuminates a performance when a player is so inspired that it seems the music is showing the way, taking him along for the ride.
There are other tapes in the Westbrook cache of jam session and rehearsal recordings. This CD is a valuable glimpse into Carmell Jones’s early musicial life. For many it will be a surpising introduction to Westbrook. It is encouraging to think that more music of this quality may remain to be discovered."