In 1947, when 19-year-old pianist Junior Mance left Roosevelt College in Chicago to join the band of soul/jazz tenor giant Gene Ammons, he was leaping into what would become a fabulous career amidst the greats of the bebop/hard bop universe, musicians with names like Young and Gillespie. In fact, Mance would soon attain all-star status himself, and in 1997 he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame.
Soulful and swinging, Junior Mance has forged a bluesy, dexterous style that never lacks for excitement or emotional depth. He comes to Pearl's in San Francisco (details at the website below) for a 3-night stay, Friday-Sunday, September 22-24 fronting an exhilarating trio featuring cool-hand rhythm man Mike Zisman on bass and daring percussion virtuoso Akira Tana on drums.
Mance is far from simply a traveling history lesson. His work is still powerful and alive. In fact, New York Times writer John S. Wilson, reviewing a Junior Mance concert, recently wrote, [He gave] the kind of electrifying performance that is chalked up permanently in the memories of everyone who heard it. A performance that is looked back on in wonder as the years go by."
Legendary jazz historian Leonard Feather has written of Mance, [T] here is in his work at all times a joy of creation, a sense of spontaneity and pleasure that most jazz enthusiasts still feel must be a part of any meaningful performance."
After spending two years in Gene Ammons' band, Junior Mance, still only 21, began a 14-year journey that found him touring with the likes of Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Dinah Washington, serving in the 36th U.S. Army Band alongside Cannonball Adderley, and anchoring the house band at the Bee Hive Jazz Club in Chicago, accompanying stars like jazz Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Eddie Lockjaw" Davis and Sonny Stitt.
In 1961, Junior Mance finally formed his own trio. He's been recording and performing, both as a leader and alongside the great powerhouses of the jazz world, ever since. It's no exaggeration to say that Mance is a musician who has the entire history of modern jazz dancing amidst every phrase and every note he plays.
As Ralph Gleason once wrote, [Mance] is so steeped in the blues tradition that he carries it along everywhere."
(Photo by Judy Kirtley)