LOT OF TEN: PLEASE SEE ALL PHOTOS AT FOOT OF PAGE
One of the more unusual, striking and scarce groups of jazz autographs we’ve offered, signed to vintage saxophone reeds by ten greats of the instrument. Each handsomely mounted and matted with a b & w photograph, originally from the collection of noted jazz autograph dealer and collector, Larry Rafferty.
In fine condition with autographs in blue or black ink, each piece accompanied either by a COA or Rafferty’s LOA.
1)Leon “Chu” Berry, vintage C.G. Conn Ltd. Special Reed, SIGNED and inscribed in fountain pen, “Best Wishes, Chu Berry, Cab Calloway Band”, mounted and matted with a photo of Berry to a size of 13.5” by 19.75 “. The signing of the reed dates from between 1937-41 when the saxophonist starred with Calloway’s band. Chu Berry had become one of the prominent tenor saxophonists of his era when he died tragically of the result of head injuries suffered in a car accident at just 33 years old. In a career which spanned less than a decade, Berry played with the bands of Benny Carter, and Fletcher Henderson, filled in for Hershel Evans alongside Lester Young in the Count Basie Orchestra, made some memorable small band sides for Columbia and RCA Victor with Roy Eldridge, and from 1937 until his death in 1941 was a star soloist with the Cab Calloway band. Coleman Hawkins, Berry’s inspiration, said of him “Chu’ was about the best” and Charlie Parker admired him so much that, in tribute, he named his first son “Leon”. Chu Berry’s autograph is very scarce in any form, this being the first that we have offered.
2) Don Byas, vintage Artist Cut Reed, SIGNED in black ink by Don Byas, mounted and matted with a photograph to a size of 13.25” by 18”. Don Byas (1912-1972) began his career at seventeen playing in the territory bands of Benny Moten and Walter Page; after switching from alto to tenor saxophone in the late 20’s he performed with some of the best orchestras of the Swing Era including the bands of Andy Kirk, Benny Carter and Lucky Millender and came to fame when he was selected to replace Lester Young in the Count Basie Orchestra in 1941. His knowledge of chords and harmonic sophistication rivaled Coleman Hawkins so that, like Hawkins, Byas is seen as one of the important transition figures between Swing and BeBop , participating in some of the first bebop recordings with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach. Although his position in the pantheon of great tenor saxophonists is assured, Byas would be probably better known today if he had not moved permanently to Europe in 1946. Settling first in Paris and then the Netherlands, Byas performed and recorded extensively with his own bands and often with touring jazz luminaries including Duke Ellington, Art Blakey, and Jazz At The Philharmonic. He spent the last 26 years of his life in Europe and performed only once more in the US at the Newport Jazz Festival, several before his death in 1972. A scarce jazz autograph.
3) Coleman Hawkins vintage Roy Maier Reed, SIGNED in fountain pen by Coleman Hawkins, mounted and matted to a size of 14” by 18” with a black and white photograph, an original print by the noted British jazz writer and photographer Valerie Wilmer, who has signed to the bottom right margin, in pencil. We have it from Mr. Rafferty that Wilmer obtained the autograph in person from the great saxophonist. Hawkins (1904-1969) is acknowledged as the father of jazz saxophone, his technical virtuosity, massive tone, and urgent swinging style almost single-handedly lifted the saxophone from novelty instrument to one of the most important jazz solo voices. His influence on the first generation of jazz saxophonists was rivaled only by Lester Young's, and his seminal 1939 recording of Body and Soul displayed a sophistication and harmonic mastery which anticipated and pointed the way to the radical reworking of jazz to come in the Bebop era of the 40's.
4) Joe Henderson, vintage Rico V-3 Reed, SIGNED in black felt tip by Joe Henderson, mounted and matted to a size of 12.5” by 17.5”, with a black and white photograph. Tenor saxophonist, Joe Henderson (1937-2001), began working professionally as a teenager in Detroit and during the early to mid 60's became a star at Blue Note records, first making his mark as a member of Horace Silver's band, recording a memorable solo on Silver's composition "Song For My Father"; he subsequently performed on many significant recordings for the label both as a sideman and a leader. The 70's and much of the 80's were a surprisingly fallow period for a musician of Henderson's formidable talent, and it wasn't until he was signed by Verve Records in the early 90's that he reemerged as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation. At Verve he recorded a series of "song-book" albums which paid homage to Billy Strayhorn, Miles Davis and Antonio Carlos Jobim, bringing the critical and popular success he so richly deserved.
5) Illinois Jacquet, vintage Rico V-3 Reed, SIGNED By Illinois Jacquet, mounted and matted to a size of 12.5” by 17.5”, with a black and white photograph. Illinois Jacquet (1922-2004), came to fame in the Lionel Hampton band with his 1942 solo on "Flying Home" which anticipated by almost a decade the honking tenor saxophone styles popularized in 50's r&b. He was a fixture on Norman Grant's Jazz At The Philharmonic tours in the 50's,becoming a crowd favourite with his aggressive freewheeling solos; signed to Granz's recording labels Clef and later Verve, Illinois recorded some fine small group sides over the years ; he went on to enjoy a long and illustrious career as a soloist, big band leader and educator, playing his last engagement at Lincoln Center in New York, less than a week before his death on July 22, 2004 at the age of 81.
6) Gerry Mulligan, vintage Vandoren Reed, SIGNED in black felt tip by Gerry Mulligan, mounted and matted with a photograph to a size of 12.5” by 16.5”. Generally considered to be the greatest baritone saxophonist in jazz history, Gerry Mulligan (1927-1996), played the difficult, cumbersome horn with a deceptive ease, a light buoyant tone and virtuosic technique. A noted arranger, Mulligan wrote charts for and performed on the seminal Miles Davis recording Birth of The Cool and his piano-less quartet with trumpeter Chet Baker helped define the Cool School of West Coast jazz in the early 50's. Extraordinarily versatile, Mulligan recorded prolifically with just about every significant jazz musician of his era and the concert jazz bands he led, composed and arranged for, were among the most innovative and influential in jazz.
7) Sonny Rollins, vintage Rico V-3 Reed, SIGNED in black felt tip by Sonny Rollins with the addition of a pair of eighth notes, mounted and matted with a photograph to a size of 12.5” by 17.5”. Sonny Rollins, with John Coltrane, is arguably the most influential and celebrated tenor saxophonist of the modern era. Coming to prominence in the early 50’s, Rollins performed and recorded with Bud Powell, Miles Davis and joined the legendary Max Roach - Clifford Brown Quintet. He became a band leader in 1956 and made a number of remarkable recordings, particularly for Prestige, including the seminal Saxophone Colossus, which displayed his fully developed magisterial tone and rhythmic and melodic mastery. He returned from the first of a number of famous self-imposed career hiatuses in the early 60’s with powerful and adventurous recordings for RCA before again removing himself from the music scene for an extended sabbatical. The 70’s and 80’s saw him reinventing his sound again in the funk, pop and r&b vein, primarily with Milestone Records, an association which lasted twenty five years. The 2000’s has been a period of great creativity and triumph for Sonny. He launched his own recording company Doxy Music which has issued a number of his live recordings, the environment which most critics agree Rollins finds most congenial and where he performs at his peak. He has also won multiple Grammy Awards in this decade, including a life-time achievement award in 2004; in 2006 Downbeat Magazine voted him Jazzman Of the Year, No 1 Tenor Saxophonist and awarded him Recording of the Year for his live album, Without A Song, The 9/11 Concert - all of this while in his mid to late 70’s! As of this writing, now in his eighty third year, Rollins continues to perform and record with power and conviction.
8)Buddy Tate, vintage Otto Link Reed, SIGNED and inscribed by Buddy Tate in fountain pen, mounted and matted to a size of 13.5” by 14.5” with black and white photograph; some chipping and staining to the reed, else fine. The inscription with “2nd Tenor” is characteristic of the manner in which Tate would have signed while a member of the Basie band. The autograph signing thus would likely date from between 1939 and 1948, during his tenure with the band. Buddy Tate (1913-2001) was one of the great tenor saxophonists of the Swing Era. Like his fellow Texans, Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb, Tate developed a big-toned hard blowing style which won him early acclaim as the permanent replacement for Hershel Evans in Count Basie‘s band, which he joined in 1939 alongside Lester Young. Big shoes which he filled admirably, Tate remained with Basie for nearly ten years. After leaving the band, he went on to have a long and illustrious career, holding down a twenty year residency at Harlem’s Celebrity Club and in later years touring regularly in Europe and the US often with his ex-Basie compatriots, trumpeter Buck Clayton and trombonist Al Grey. He recorded as a leader throughout the 1970 and 80’s, performed with Benny Goodman, and co-led bands with saxophonist, Paul Quinichette, and drummer Bobby Rosengarden. Buddy’s last recordings were made with saxophonist James Carter, on his album Conversin’ with the Elders in 1996, after which ill-health forced him into retirement before his death in 2001.
9)Phil Woods, vintage La Voz Reed, SIGNED in black felt tip by Phil Woods, mounted and matted with a photograph to a size of 12.5” by 17.5”. As of this writing Phil Woods (1931- ) continues to perform and record in his eighties, perhaps the last living master altoist of Charlie Parker - inspired classic Bebop. His link to the era is literal in that he married Bird’s former wife Chan Parker in the 50’s and became the stepfather of Parker’s daughter, Kim. Over a career spanning more than 50 years, the versatile Woods, one of the most consistent and successful performers in jazz, possessed of a gorgeous tone and prodigious technique, has performed as a sideman on hundreds of jazz recordings, and has also made well-known contributions to pop music recordings by the likes of Paul Simon, Billy Joel and French composer, Michel LeGrand. As a band leader, he has fronted superb small bands for decades which have included stellar musicians including trumpeter Tom Harrell, bassist Steve Gilmore, drummer Bill Goodwin, and pianists Bill McNeely and Hal Galper. A multi-Grammy award winner, Woods is the subject of a documentary film, entitled “A Life In E Flat, Portrait of a Jazz Master”, released in 2005.
10)Lester Young, vintage Vandoren Reed, signed and inscribed in fountain pen, “Lester Young, 1st Tenor”, mounted and matted with a photograph of Young to a size of 11.75” by 18”, some chipping and staining to the reed, else fine. The inscription with “1st Tenor” is characteristic of the manner in which Pres signed while a member of the Basie band. The autograph signing thus would probably date from between 1936 to 1940, his main tenure with the band or perhaps from 1943-44 when Young briefly rejoined the Basie Orchestra. Lester 'Pres' Young, (1909 – 1959), came to fame in the 1930's with the Count Basie Orchestra, made some immortal small band recordings with Billie Holiday, and developed what Whitney Balliett has called, an "airy, lissome tone and elusive lyrical way of playing that had never been heard before". Young had a great influence on the young Charlie Parker and his stylistic advances can be heard in the music of Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan and countless other prominent members of the next generation of jazz musicians. Young’s signature is sought after in any form, this being the most unusual we have offered.