His roommate while on the Kenton band was Art Pepper. Eddie told me during an interview:
Wow, Art was unpredictable. The guy was very taken with himself and wanted to be the greatest alto player in the world. He even had acetates of his playing to listen to on the road. He was a smart guy who unfortunately got hung up on drugs young. But he had a great sound and great jazz ideas."
We rehearsed together four times. Then one day I came in and they told me Kai Winding would be playing trombone, not me. It turned out to be Miles' 'Birth of the Cool' band. I never understood why I had been bumped.
Some 20 years later I ran into Junior Collins, the French hornist who played in the group. He asked me, 'Hey, did they ever tell you what I told Miles you said?' 'No, what did you say?' I asked. Junior said, 'I told Miles you said the band was out of tune.' I couldn't believe it. I told Junior, 'But I never said anything like thatwhy would you say something like that?' He said, I don't know. It was getting boring.'
In 1952, with the rise of the 10-inch LP and demand for musicians with new ideas, Eddie began recording as a leader. Throughout the 1950s, Eddie recorded in small groups and big bands, developing an ever-rounder sound that was distinctly East Coast in tone and power.
Over the years I often called Eddie to chat about his band daysfirst spending time on the phone with Molly, who would fill me in on family doings. When Eddie came on, his voice always had an Old New York sound to it, like the guys who hung around boxing gyms in the movies. And he'd just pick up where we left off the last time.
The East Coast session featured Eddie Bert, Jimmy Cleveland, Henry Coker, Bennie Green [pictured], Melba Liston, Benny Powell, Frank Rehak, Bob Brookmeyer, Dick Hickson and Bart Varsalonaall in one trombone section. They were backed by Hank Jones (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass) and Osie Johnson (drums). The arranger was J.J. Johnson. (Substitutions on the three different dates included Milt Hinton in for Marshall, and Bob Alexander in for Henry Coker.)
Kusby, Dick Nash, Murray McEachern, Tommy Pederson, Frank Beach, George Roberts, Ken Shroyer, Milt Bernhart, Bob Fitzpatrick, Joe Howard, Lewis McGreery, Frank Rosolino [pictured], Dave Wells and Bob Brookmeyer (working both coasts!). The rhythm section featured Marty Paich (piano), Barney Kessel (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass) and Mel Lewis (drums). The California arranging was handled by Paich and Warren Barker.
What did Eddie think?
I didn't like the date. I can't explain why. I just remember it was a drag. That's what sticks in my mind. We recorded it at Bell Sound on West 54th, and I remember it didn't lay right. It had absolutely nothing to do with J.J.'s writing. There were just too many trombones. Who needed so many? It was a drag. Some dates are like that. Hey, other guys who were may have a different opinion. That's just mine."
JazzWax note: For my four-part interview with Eddie Bert in 2007, go here (links to additional parts appear above the red date at Part 1).
- Gil MelleNew Faces, New Sounds (1952)
- Eddie BertKaleidoscope (1953)
- Al CohnEast Coast/West Coast Scene (1954)
- Elliot LawrencePlays Gerry Mulligan Arrangements (1955)
- Kenny ClarkeKenny Clarke/Ernie Wilkins (1955)
- Eddie BertCrosstown (1955)
- Eddie BertI Hear Music-Modern Music (1955)
- Charles MingusAt the Bohemia (1955)
- Duke JordaFlight to Jordan (1955)
- Elliot LawrencePlays Tiny Kahn and Johnny Mandel (1956)
- Gil MellePatterns in Jazz (1956)
- J.J. JohnsonJay and Kai + 6 (1956)
- Tom TalbertBix, Duke, Fats (1956)
- Maynard FergusonDreamband (1956)
- Teddy CharlesWord From Bird (1956)
- MachitoKenya (1957)
- Gene KrupaPlays Gerry Mulligan Arrangements (1958)
- Urbie GreenThe Message (1959)
- Lee KonitzYou and Lee (1959)
- Charles MingusTown Hall Concert (1962)
- Manny AlbamBrass on Fire (1966)
- Thad Jones/Mel LewisCentral Park North (1969)
- Thad Jones/Mel LewisConsummation (1970)
- Sal SalvadorStarfingers (1978)