It all depends on the week. Sometimes you’re chugging along and it seems that every time you turn your perfectly-shaped head there’s another library being named for you, another director who wants you for their picture or just another good-looking friend who wants to raise a toast to you. You’re at the top of your game and it shows. And sometimes, like this week, it’s just you in your boxer shorts, a handful of pills, and the test patterns on TV. These dark jazz obscurities are the sound of your next downward spiral. See you in rehab, buddy.
1. Parker McDougal, Foxxy Minor (M and M)
Parker McDougal was a tenor saxophonist who played a supporting role for many local outfits. He also recorded early on for the hip M and M Records, who released the rivetingly dark “Foxxy Minor” in 1960. McDougal remained a Chicago jazz and R&B fixture but recorded, as a leader at least, only sporadically in subsequent decades. He passed away in 1994 at age 69.
See the fantastic Red Saunders Research for the full story on M and M and other indie Chicago R&B/jazz labels.
2. Henry Glover & His Quartet, Sassy’s Dream (King)
The Arkansas-born Henry Glover got his professional start during World War Two playing trumpet and providing arrangements for swing and jump R&B groups like Jimmie Lunceford’s, Lucky Millinder’s, Buddy Johnson’s and Tiny Bradshaw’s. A pioneering African-American record executive moreover, it was at Cincinnati’s legendary country and R&B (and later rock ‘n’ roll and soul) label King Records that Glover truly his niche, distinguishing himself there behind-the-scenes as a talented producer, songwriter, scout and Artists & Repertoire man. During his time at King Records, Glover worked with everyone from Hank Ballard and the Midnighters and Little Willie John to versatile R&B veteran Bull Moose Jackson and hillbilly duet the Delmore Brothers.
On this lovely ’50s downer, Glover steps from the shadows to play piano. There’s a real kismet here to the selection’s title and atmosphere, and it’s fun reading all sorts of illicit messages into that dreamy, torpor-inducing drugginess.
Glover passed on in 1991.
3. Bob Bain’s All Stars, Black Beauty (Montclare)
“Black Beauty” is an old street name for amphetamine. “Black Beauty,” in this case, is the opposite of amphetamine.
This is ether music of the finest order.
Bob Bain, a jazz guitarist and longtime LA studio musician, is here heard along with Plas Johnson, another prolific studio heavyweight. (Both, incidentally, were Mancini regulars – Johnson best known for the saxophone work on The Pink Panther theme and Bain for Peter Gunn‘s unforgettable crime-jazz Telecaster riff.)
There were a few full-length light jazz and easy-listening releases of his own along the way – and of course this memorable obscurity – but mostly Bain remained in the studio world for much of a very successful post-War working career, playing hundreds of pop and television soundtrack sessions and winding up, eventually, for a long spell in the guitar chair in Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show band.
“Black Beauty” was recorded in Los Angeles in the early to mid-’60s.