The Six made their first appearance in 1954 at Jimmy Ryan’s, the New York club located on 52nd Street. The group was the brainchild of clarinetist and saxophonist Bob Wilber, Sidney Bechet protégé and leader of the Wildcats, a Dixieland group he put together while he was in Scarsdale High in 1946. He would later go on to study with Lennie Tristano and Leon Russianoff.
Wilber and two of his former Wildcats bandmates —trumpeter Johnny Glasel and drummer Ed Phyfe— joined three newcomers —pianist Tommy Goodman, trombonist Porky Cohen, and bassist Bob Petersen and became The Six. Right from the start, their credo was to play without regard to the restrictions of schools or styles. And as a unit, they were a decidedly cooperative organization, with no one member being the leader.
After The Six released their first album for producer Norman Granz’s Norgran label, Nat Hentoff gave it high...