Buddy Featherstonhaugh: '56
The future of jazz for the jazz listener is foreign jazz. As good as American players were and are, there's a world of jazz past, present and future out there that will likely be a revelation to you. For those readers who tire of buying the same historic recordings over and over again in different packages, start exploring jazz albums from different countries that were recorded in the 1950s. You'll find thousands of great recordings by musicians whose names you've never heard before.
One of these musicians is U.K. saxophonist Buddy Featherstonhaugh (pronounced FAN-shaw"). His first professional gig was in 1927, and throughout the '30s he was with a range of British bands, that is when he wasn't racing cars. In World War II, he led an RAF band that included Vic Lewis and Jack Parnell. After the war he toured with his band. And just like that, he left the scene to sell cars.
Just as mysteriously, Buddy returned to the studio in '56 to record two albums playing baritone and clarinet—backed by a quintet. The first session featured Leon Calvert (tp) Roy Sidwell (ts) Bill Stark (b) and Paul Brodie (d). The second included Kenny Wheeler (tp) Bobby Wellins (ts) Bill Stark (b) and Jackie Dougan (d) on the second.
And that was it. After these dates, our man Buddy went into retirement, presumably to fix, sell or race cars. He died in 1976.
The music on his two 1956 sessions is cheery and linear, akin to West Coast jazz in the States, but with a touch of jauntiness. Interestingly, while Buddy's arranging is contrapuntal, his playing owes more to the East Coast—lingering and expressive rather than conversational.
In the past 15 years, we've seen foreign labels aggressively market out-of-print American jazz recordings from the '50s to U.S. consumers. And thank goodness they have, since most of us probably would have had a chance to hear them without such labels. If I were to rub the lamp again, I'd wish these labels would start releasing jazz from the '50s and early '60s that was recorded in Britian, France, Sweden and other major jazz centers.
Going forward, I will write increasingly about the foreign gems in my collection by musicians whose names are difficult to pronounce. There's a lot of great stuff over there.
JazzWax tracks: Buddy Featherstonhaugh's 1956 sessions can be found on Jazz Today (Vocalion) here, which pairs Buddy's albums with recordings by British baritone saxophonist Harry Klein. JazzWax note: To those readers who are experiencing trouble opening posts that contain audio tracks like the one above, the problem is your Internet Explorer. There's a coding conflict at this point between Explorer and JazzWax.
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