Terry Pollard (p), Don Fagerquist, Thad Jones (tp), Gene Quill (as), Billy Mitchell (ts), Terry Gibbs (vib), Howard Roberts, Dick Garcia (g), Herman Wright, Bill Anthony, Alvin Jackson (b), Frank DeVito, Bert Dahlander, Jerry Segal, Frank Isola, Elvin Jones (d)
Reference: FSRCD 954
Bar code: 8427328609548
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Pianist and vibraphonist Terry Pollard (1931-2009) was one of the leading jazz musicians in the thriving Detroit jazz scene of the 1940s and 50s. She was a wellknown figure in her hometown as early as 1948, but it was not until 1953 when her musical talent achieved national prominence, after Terry Gibbs—USA’s top vibraphonist—asked her to join his quartet for a country-wide tour. Both played with such authority, that Terry ended up tempering Gibbs’ usual irrepressibility with the sobriety of her piano, the sensitive eloquence that flows from her solos, and her uncanny ability to match Gibbs in the hard swinging tunes.
This CD set gathers the best of Pollard’s piano, highlighting the only album she recorded as a leader, but including too the best of her performances with the groups of Terry Gibbs and guitarist Dick Garcia. These are some memorable moments of her short career, brilliant and wonderfully pulsating, full of consistently well-conceived solos. She plays with the freshness and extended logic conception of Bud Powell, but cuts Wynton Kelly and Horace Silver in the strength of her playing, the irresistible impact of her emotion, and the deep sureness of her beat.
In 1958, just as she was emerging as an original voice, as an exciting asset to the contemporary scene, Terry Pollard retired from her full-time music career in order to raise a family. Still, she continued to play locally in Detroit, where she led a fine trio at the Hobby Bar, and performed with visiting artists.
"Born in Detroit, accomplished pianist and vibraphonist Terry Jean Pollard (1931-2009) played and recorded locally with Thad and Elvin Jones in Billy Mitchell’s quintet (1952-53). She was then invited by Terry Gibbs to join his quartet on nationwide tours as pianist and second vibist. They subsequently recorded five albums together, and appear on seven tracks on this collection. When he first listened to Pollard, Gibbs recalled that she “played piano completely different (sic) than any girl I had ever heard” and then discovered that “she played the heck out of the vibes; as good as any vibes player... in those days". (In 1956 she won Downbeat’s New Artist award, and was nicknamed “Queen of the Vibes”). A hard-swinging I’ll Remember April encapsulates their musical and personal chemistry.
In 1953 she released an LP titled The Terry Pollard Quintet - included on this album. On Scrapple From The Apple, a confident Pollard (on piano) plays a romping introduction, with a walking bass solo by Wright and spirited four-bar exchanges with DeVito. A then 28-year old Don Fagerquist makes splendid contributions to the lengthy Autumn Notes and Pollard’s jaunty composition Fedj. Also included in this retrospective are notable performances of Blue Room with Pollard underlining and linking short solos from Mitchell and Thad Jones (propelled by Alvin Jackson and Elvin Jones), an exhilarating Stompin’ At The Savoy, with fleet guitar from Garcia, and the distinctive alto of Quill on It Could Happen.
In 1960 Pollard retired from a full-time musical career - partly because of racial discrimination and segregation - and returned to Detroit where she continued to perform at jazz spots until she suffered a stroke and an aneurysm in 1978."
Jazz Journal (April, 2017)
"Somewhere out there in the Detroit region there are unreleased tapes of Terry Pollard. The accomplished female pianist and vibraphonist recorded only one studio album as a leader. Terry Pollard was recorded for Bethlehem in Los Angeles in January 1955. She began her recording career in the early 1950s in Billy Mitchell's Detroit quintet. Then thanks to the keen eyes and ears of vibraphonist and bandleader Terry Gibbs, she joined his band and recorded seven albums with him from 1953 to 1956. She also appeared on TV with him that year. In 1958, Pollard retired from her music career to raise a family but in the years that followed she led a trio at Detroit's Hobby Bar and performed with touring artists.
Someone must have tapes of her playing at the Hobby Bar. Hopefully label gumshoes who specialize in unearthing such unreleased gems will find recordings by Pollard, who is woefully undocumented. For now, Fresh Sound Records has just remastered in mono (24 bit) Pollard's Bethlehem leadership album as well as select recordings as a sidewoman.
Chronologically, this Fresh Sound album begins with Blue Room, which Pollard recorded with Billy Mitchell (ts), Thad Jones (tp), Pollard (p,vib), Alvin Jackson (b) and Elvin Jones (d). Then comes It Could Happen to You and Stompin' at the Savoy from Dick Garcia's A Message From Garcia,featuring Gene Quill (as), Pollard (p), Garcia (g), Bill Anthony (b) and Frank Isola (d).
The next eight tracks are from Terry Pollard on Bethlehem from January 1955, featuring Don Fagerquist (tp), Pollard (p), Howard Roberts (g), Herman Wright (b) and Frank DeVito (d). The Bethlehem cover, featured only a series of blurry lights, which I suppose allowed buyers to think Pollard was a white male, which was more marketable than an African-American woman. The back did not include a photo either.
Every track on this Fresh Sound release is a joy, and the remastering makes the album a must own. Pollard, Hazel Scott and Marian McPartland were queens of the jazz piano in the 1950s. Pollard also was vibes royalty. As for Mary Lou Williams, she was in a league of her own.
Terry Pollard died in 2009.
Marc Myers (March 14, 2018)
"In this present era of atonal naval gazing at the ivories, this reissue by Fresh Sound Records remind us of a time and style when the swing pulse was inherent in every tune, be it upbeat or relaxed and casual.
Terry Pollard was part of the Detroit jazz scene of the 40s and 50s, never making a major name for herself outside the Motor City. This album (with illuminating liner notes to put her career into perspective) has her in a variety of soulful bop settings from the early to mid 50s with the likes of Howard Roberts/g, Herman Wright/b, Frank DeVito-Jerry Segal/dr, Terry Gibbs/vib and Don Fagerquist/tp. Her bop chops are in full light as she sizzles on tight trio pieces such as “Where or When,” “Scrapple From the Apple” and shows grace on “Lonely Dreams” and romance for “Laura.” With Fagerqust’s hip horn the team bounces on the Latin “Autumn Serenade” while with Gene Qull’s floating alto, the band swings on “Stompin’ at the Savoy.” Best of all is the closer “Blue Room with the formidable company of Thad Jones/tp, Billy Mitchell/ts, Alvin Jackson/b and Elvin Jones/dr on a hip and delightful “Blue Room.” This lady’s a cooker!"
George W. Harris (March 22, 2018)