Jazz Master of the Month

Each month, WEAA honors one legend of jazz. Learn more about the artist and his or her work.

Jazz Master of the Month: Sean Jones

Dec 11, 2020

Paul Laurence Dunbar Chambers, Jr was a prolific bassist who recorded over one dozen projects as a leader, but has become most widely appreciated as a sideman who performed with John Coltrane, trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Wynton Kelly. 

It is more than fitting that we honor and celebrate “the First Lady of Song” Ella Jane Fitzgerald in April, the month of her birth and also the month designated as “Jazz Appreciation Month” in 2001 by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History.

John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery was first signed to Riverside records in 1959, and by 1968 he was dead. After less than ten years of recording and performing, Montgomery became one of the most innovative, admired, emulated guitarist in the history of the instrument. 

With more than sixty years in the music business, over seventy albums, and three Grammys, 79-year-old singer self-described “song stylist” Nancy Wilson still holds an audience in the palm of her hand when she sings. 

“I’ve done as much as I could on drums…I’m moving on now.” That’s the way Grady Tate describes his music pursuits these days. 

Shirley Horn, vocalist and accomplished jazz and classical pianist, was nominated for nine Grammy awards during her performing career. 

Johnny Griffin was a Chicago-born alto and tenor saxophonist. His masterful technique and speed as a bebop saxophonist earned him the title “The Fastest Gun in The West” — but because of his relatively short stature he was more fondly called “The Gentle Giant.” 

On September 7, 1930, Sonny Rollins was born in New York City. Rollins' artistic neighborhood included such musical giants (to-be) as Jackie McLean, drummer Art Taylor and pianist Kenny Drew. 

Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bassist, and an accomplished pianist bandleader, and composer. Mingus favored complex rhythms, mixed harmonies and a combination of structured and free improvisation in his music, drawing heavily from black gospel music and the blues.

Kurt Elling
John Abbott / Flickr

Kurt Elling is a baritone singer with a four octave range. He sings vocalese, the art of performing words over improvised jazz solos.

Abbey Lincoln, born Anna Marie Wooldridge, is one of the most fearless and uncompromising singers of our era. Singing in a style of both bold projection and expressive restraint, critics often compare her to Billie Holiday. Lincoln’s career ranged from acting in Hollywood films, to outspoken civil rights advocacy in the 1960’s.

Jimmy Heath with audience at Rockerfeller Center, NYC 1977
<a href=“https://www.flickr.com/photos/tommarcello/">Tom Marcello</a> / Flickr

Born in West Philadelphia, James "Jimmy" Heath was part of a musical family. His older brother Percy spent over forty years as bassist with the Modern Jazz Quartet, and his younger brother Albert became a world renowned drummer. The three brothers are fondly referred to as “The Heath brothers.” Their mother called them “Lord Percy,” “King James,” and “Prince Albert.” 

With his unique “tempo-less” ballads and high voice, Little Jimmy Scott was a spellbinding jazz vocalist. Though his style was under appreciated by the larger listening public for most of his professional performing career, he was nevertheless admired by Nancy Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Shirley Horn, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Betty Carter, Michael Jackson, and many others. 

Charlie Rouse was born in Washington D.C. in 1924, and is mostly remembered as Thelonious Monk’s featured tenor saxophonist from 1959 to 1970. His articulate solos were always full of joy, with each of his fluid phrases perfectly connected to the one before. 

Pages