Carmell Jones (tp), Forrest Westbrook (p), Gary Peacock (b), Bill Schwemmer (d)
Reference: FSRCD 867
Bar code: 8427328608671
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 Westbrooks 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.
"In these previously unreleased sessions from August 1960, we are introduced to trumpeter Carmell Jones, who had recently moved from his home in Kansas City to Los Angeles, intent on making his mark on the West Coast jazz scene. As luck would have it, he quickly became part of a quartet that had Forrest Westbrook on piano, Gary Peacock on bass, and Bill Schwemmer on drums. The band used to rehearse in Westbrooks apartment where he had a small studio with audio recording equipment. These sides were professionally recorded on reel-to-reel tape by Westbrook with the intention of introducing the group to Dick Bock, President of Pacific Jazz Records. However that never happened and the tapes remained unplayed for almost 55 years. Kudos to Jordi Pujol of Fresh Sound Records for ferreting out these tapes, which are the earliest introduction to this up-and-coming hard-bop trumpeter.
Stylistically Jones comes from the Clifford Brown school, but he does not have the ferocity or technical facility exhibited by Brown. Nevertheless, he displays a solid tone and excellent range that allows him to build the appropriate dynamics as evidenced by the opening cut Willow Weep For Me. The rhythm section understands how to construct the harmonic tension in the number, with pianist Westbrook showing quiet polish. The Ray Charles number Ruby is a swinger filled with Jones flashing ideas, and a clear sense of phrase. Schwemmer keeps solid time, with pianist Westbrook ever resourceful, and bassist Peacock demonstrating technique over attack. As the original purpose of this session was to act as a demo for Dick Bock, it is short in length, yet indicated the musical flexibility of the group. Hence Baubles, Bangles And Beads offered in 3/4 time. While Jones is his usual versatile and proficient self, the tune gave plenty of solo space to bassist Gary Peacock who flexed his muscles as a savy player.
The final original number is the Sonny Rollins composition Airegin (an anagram for Nigeria), a rhythm section excursion showcasing pianist Forrest Westbrook. At the time of the recording, he was little known outside some tight musical circles in LA, and he never really gained any national attention. That is unfortunate as he had a muscular single-note style that was prevalent on the West Coast, and exemplified by such players as Russ Freeman, Hampton Hawes and Lou Levy.
Carmell Jones did record a number of albums in his own name for Pacific Jazz as well as becoming an integral part of the trumpet section of Gerald Wilsons Big Band. He also played a prominent role in Horace Silvers release Song For My Father. Regrettably he never really caught on in the US. He left the country in 1966 and moved to Berlin, Germany to find his voice. He remained in that country until 1980 and, when he returned, he was all but forgotten. No one said life was fair."
Pierre Giroux (December 2015)
"Exceptional artists who seem to fall off the radar provide some of the enduring enigmas of jazz. Heres a case in point: Carmell Jones was a trumpet phenomenon in and around LA in the 60s, sought out by Bud Shank, Harold Land, Art Blakey, Horace Silver et al until in 1965 he disappeared. Actually, he didnt. Like his contemporary, trumpeter Jon Eardley (review JJ July), he moved to Germany, to work for 15 years with Paul Kuhns radio and TV big band.
But another intriguing story concerns the music on this CD, from tapes that lay unheard for more than 50 years. Jones was just 24, recently arrived from Kansas City to LA, when he teamed up with this talented rhythm trio to record this truly astounding session. The individual quality of all four is immediately apparent, but special mention must be made of Forrest Westbrook, whose extraordinary technique powers a rare strand of originality and Tristano-like drive. As producer Jordi Pujol points out in his notes, the pianist (who died last year) was another largely unheralded prodigy although well-known on the West Coast: his piano-trio interpretation of Rollins Airegin was excitingly inventive and his imaginative comping throughout gave a subtle spur to his colleagues. The inspired Peacock later emerged as a ground-breaker with Keith Jarrett while Schwemmer showed drive and empathy.
Carmell Joness performance this early in his career shows why he caused such a stir in the City of the Angels. His tone is bright, his articulation fluent in uptempos (If I Love Again) and delightfully vulnerable in slows (cup-muted in Willow Weep alternate take). His decorative passages are profoundly in keeping with the lovely ballad. This informal quartet, excellently recorded, had such brilliant potential that the survival of these tracks is both a miracle and a poignant memento of what-might-have-been."
Anthony Troon -Jazz Journal (September, 2015)
"Carmell Jones (1936-96) was an excellent hard bop trumpeter who was based in Los Angeles during 1960-65. He had his highest profile during that period, leading two albums for Pacific Jazz and one for Prestige, in addition to appearing as a sideman on many recordings including Horace Silvers Song For My Father record. Jones lived and worked in Germany during 1965-80, spending much of his last 16 years being based in Kansas City.
Quartet is an exciting new find, a previously unreleased and unknown set from 1960 with the obscure but talented pianist Forrest Westbrook, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Bill Schwemmer. The recording quality is excellent as is the playing by Jones and the quartet on six numbers and four alternate takes. Jones is particularly strong on If I Love Again, a rare jazz version of Ruby, and Airegin. This is the only full-length album on which Jones is featured as the lone horn and the 24-year old Jones is heard throughout at his youthful best. His tone is warm, and his ideas are both creative and enthusiastic. In addition, this is one of the few opportunities to hear Forrest Westbrook stretching out at length; he displays a personal style within the bop tradition.
Carmell Jones Quartet is a must for bop collectors."
Scott Yanow (August, 2015)
-Los Angeles Jazz Scene
"Not appreciated these days because his career was mostly in the West Coast, trumpeter Carmell Jones is best known for his short stint with Horace Silver. His solo on Song For My Father is a classic and is reason enough alone for giving him a second look. Here, hes caught in a never before released 1960 session from Hollywood with the trio of Forrest Westbrook/p, Gary Peacock/b and Bill Schwemmer. There are six songs and four alternate takes, and the music is vintage bop to post bop. Jones has a honey of a sound on the lovely Willow Weep For Me and shows hes got the gravitas on Ray Charles Ruby and Baubles, Bangles and Beads. He sits out to let Westbrook hit the ivories on a tenacious Airegin, making you wonder where this thing has been sitting for all these years. Fresher than 90% of what is currently called new releases."
George W. Harris (August 17, 2015)
"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 1961The 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)
"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 Wilsons 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 musicianspianist Forrest Westbrook, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Bill Schwemmer. Westbrooks 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 Westbrooks family and friends.
Following Westbrooks 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, Joness 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 Roemhelds 1953 hit from the film Ruby Gentry; and Harold Arlens For Every Man Theres 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 Peacocks 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.
Westbrooks 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' 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."
-Doug Ramsey (Rifftides / June 1, 2015)