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Larry Ridley

Jazz musician and music professor Larry Ridley was born on September 3, 1937 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Lawrence and Nevolena Ridley. He was taught to play the violin at the age of five, but later became interested in jazz music and learned to play the bass. Ridley graduated from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. He went on to attend Indiana University in 1955, but completed his B.S. degree at New York University in 1971. He earned his M.A. degree in cultural policy from the State University of New York Empire State College in 1993, and his Ph.D. degree in performing arts from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore in 2005.

After attending the Lenox School of Jazz summer program in 1959, Ridley moved to New York City to pursue a career as a professional jazz musician. In the 1960s, Ridley was active in the New York jazz music scene, playing on tours and in studio recordings with a wide range of notable jazz musicians, including Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Philly Joe Jones, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Lee Morgan, and Jackie McLean. In 1971, he was hired as a professor of music at Rutgers University’s Livingston College, where he developed the college’s jazz education program, creating both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in jazz performance. From 1970 to 1973, he toured the world as the bassist for Thelonious Monk. Ridley released his own album, Sum of Parts, in 1975. From 1981 to 1985, he played as part of the tribute band Dameronia, in honor of the composer Tad Dameron. In 1985, Ridley formed his own group, the Jazz Legacy Ensemble, releasing two albums Live at Rutgers University and Other Voice. Ridley retired from Rutgers in 1999, but continued to teach at the Manhattan School of Music and Swing University at Jazz at the Lincoln Center. He chaired the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Panel. He also served as the coordinator of the Jazz Artists in Schools program, executive director of the African American Jazz Caucus and northeast regional coordinator for the International Association for Jazz Educators.

Ridley received numerous awards and accolades for his work in jazz music and education. He was inducted into the International Association for Jazz Educators Hall of Fame, the Downbeat Magazine Jazz Education Hall of Fame, and the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation Hall of Fame. He was honored by a Juneteenth 2006 Proclamation Award from the New York City Council, and was the recipient of the Meade Legacy Jazz Griot Award, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Jazz Legacy Award, the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation’s Living Legacy Jazz Award, and the Benny Golson Jazz Award from Howard University.

Larry Ridley was interviewed by The Historymakers on November 30, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.141

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/30/2016

Last Name

Ridley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

George Washington Carver School 87

Shortridge High School

Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University

New York University

State University of New York / Empire State College

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

William D. McCoy Public School 24

First Name

Dr. Larry

Birth City, State, Country

Indianapolis

HM ID

RID01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

To Thine Own Self Be True.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/3/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Jazz musician and music professor Larry Ridley (1937 - ) taught at Rutgers University from 1971 to 1999, and played with jazz legends such as Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, and Thelonious Monk.

Employment

The Montgomery-Johnson Quintet

The Jazz Contemporaries

Slide Hampton's Octet

Horace Silver Quintet

Rutgers University

Jazz Legacy Ensemble

African American Jazz Caucus, Inc.

Duke Ellington Orchestra

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Larry Ridley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley describes his family's residence at Lockefield Gardens in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley remembers his elementary school teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley recalls his maternal family's involvement with Madame C.J. Walker

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Larry Ridley describes his early friends

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Larry Ridley recalls his initial interest in learning an instrument

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley remembers his first violin

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley recalls his early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley recalls playing music with James Spaulding and Virgil Jones

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley remembers his early interest in jazz

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley talks about his father's ice business

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley recalls his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley remember Ray Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley remembers The Montgomery Brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley recalls his encounters with racism, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley recalls his encounters with racism, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley describes his experiences at Shortridge School in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley remembers forming a jazz band in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley recalls his early jazz influences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley recalls his initial experiences at Indiana University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley remembers his bass teacher at Indiana University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley recalls attending a summer course at the Lenox School of Jazz

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley remembers playing with Max Roach in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Larry Ridley describes the roles of each instrument in a jazz band

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Larry Ridley talks about the importance of the bass line in a jazz composition

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley remembers his experiences at the Lenox School of Jazz in Lenox, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley talks about the art of performing with a jazz band

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley remembers performing with Max Roach

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley reflects upon the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley recalls his limited performances in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley remembers the artists with whom he collaborated

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley describes his duo performances in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley talks about managing his professional engagements

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley talks about the importance of being flexible as a jazz artist

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley remembers completing his bachelor's degree at New York University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley remembers performing with Thelonious Monk

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley describes Thelonious Monk's musical style

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley talks about the differences between bandleaders' styles

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley recalls heading the jazz program at Livingston College in Piscataway, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley remembers performing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley talks about his role on the jazz panel for the National Endowment for the Arts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley talks about the Jazz Artists in Schools program

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley recalls earning his master's degree and training music teachers

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley remembers Wynton Marsalis' family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley recalls his professional and educational engagements in the 2000s

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley talks about the importance of music education

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley recalls the designation of jazz as a national treasure by the U.S. Congress

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley reflects upon the lack of government support for jazz programs

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Larry Ridley reflects upon his life and the future of jazz education

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Larry Ridley shares his advice to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Larry Ridley talks about the prevalence of jazz music

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

10$3

DATitle
Larry Ridley describes the roles of each instrument in a jazz band
Larry Ridley describes Thelonious Monk's musical style
Transcript
And so when it comes to playing with these great drummers and other musicians in the jazz world, because much of it is improvisational--this kind of melding of talent--$$Yes.$$--which is very different from, say, the classical music that you learned in school. Can you talk about your process when you're working with different artists and creating music together?$$Well, apart from the blues, which anybody that's learning how to play knows, learns how to play the blues and you learn the twelve bar blues form. But the different compositions that are a part of what musicians use, you know. Like a song like 'Fine and Dandy,' (sings musical notes) or 'Cherokee,' (sings musical notes), you know, all of these song compositions have chord changes that are a part of it. So you know, whoever's playing the piano or the guitar in terms of chordal instruments, they're playing that. And every individual in the group has their particular role. The bass player is like the link between the harmonic instruments and the drums. So, that's what forms the rhythm section. And occasionally, there'll be a guitarist that might be a part of it, too, and that becomes the rhythm section. And we're accompanying the horn players that are on the front line, you know. And they will have songs that they're playing and there're chord sequence to all of the tunes, and you learn what the chord sequences are. And my role as the bass player is to improvise the bass line that becomes the link between the piano and the guitar as the chordal instruments, and the drums. So the bass is like in the center of making that link, which is very important. And it's important to know how to get a groove. Like Duke Ellington wrote that song, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing" ['It Don't Mean A Thing'] (laughter).$You also describe one of the things that you appreciated about Thelonious [Thelonious Monk], that he was the master of understatement.$$Yes.$$Can you describe that?$$Whereas a lot of musicians--and speaking of him as a pianist--and it applies to certain other instruments, too--the idea of understatement, and his use of dissonance. And he would achieve dissonance--like when you look at a piano keyboard, you got the white keys and you got the black keys. Well, you know, like when you play like a white key and a black key at the same time, that's called a minor second intervallically, in terms of musical language, and it gives a certain kind of sound of dissonance. He could incorporate that type of thing into his playing, and it gave him his unique approach to soloing. And he would always--the way he would construct--he had his own way of rhythmic patterns in terms of the lyricism. And if you listen to some of his songs, you know, he had like one song, (sings musical notes) and so forth. That's one of his tunes, you know. But just an interesting use of rhythm and using minor seconds. Like I say, like if you got a white key and a black key right next to it, and you hit both of them simultaneously, that gives you the sound of a minor second. It's a more strident tone, and it becomes more constant the wider you go with the intervals, the intervallic relationship of one note to the next. And he had a way of utilizing that to create a very singular approach to his soloing and his use of rhythm. He would say, (sings musical notes). And it was just very flexible in terms of how he could move the rhythms around, you know. And that was a signature part of his trademark as a pianist. He wasn't trying to play more lyrically or melodically, in the sense of like Red Garland or Oscar Peterson or anybody--Bud Powell, or anything. He loved Bud Powell, though, because Bud would do some things where he would use minor seconds on the piano, too. But Bud was--in fact, he wrote a song called 'In Walked Bud.'

Benjamin Tucker

Noted jazz musician Benjamin Mayor Tucker was born on December 13, 1930 in Brentwood, Tennessee. Tucker and his twin brother grew up in Nashville with their parents Carrie Clayborne and Joseph Tucker. He graduated from Pearl High School in 1946 and matriculated at Tennessee State University in 1949 as a music major. In 1950, he joined the United States Air Force, serving for four years.

Tucker’s love for music began at an early age. He taught himself to play the tuba at the age of thirteen and later the bass violin and piano. Some of his favorite jazz musicians included Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson. In 1956, Tucker moved to Hollywood, California, where he met Warren Marsh. His first recording was a collaboration with Marsh entitled Jazz of Two Cities in 1959. That same year, Metronome magazine named him one of the world’s top ten bass players. In 1961, he recorded Coming Home Baby, a hit for Herbie Mann and Mel Torme. This song was featured in the film Get Shorty.

Tucker became Savannah, Georgia’s first African American radio station owner in 1972 when he purchased WSOK Radio. WSOK was the top AM station for thirteen years. His station had over 400,000 listeners and a reputation of integrity in advertising. In 1989, Tucker opened Hard Hearted Hannah’s, a jazz club. He was not only the owner of the club, but he also led the band six nights a week.

Tucker served on the boards of several organizations. President Jimmy Carter appointed him to serve on the Selective Service Board, and President Ronald Reagan reappointed him. Tucker for the 1996 Olympic Committee in Atlanta, Georgia. He was also the creator of the Telfair Jazz Society in Savannah.

Tucker and his wife, Gloria, resided in Savannah, Georgia. They had two adult children, Sabra and Wayne.

Tucker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 23, 2007.

Benjamin Tucker passed away on June 4, 2013.

Accession Number

A2007.026

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/23/2007

Last Name

Tucker

Maker Category
Schools

Tennessee State University

Martin Luther King Jr Magnet High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Benjamin

Birth City, State, Country

Brentwood

HM ID

TUC05

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Savannah Chapter of the Links, Inc

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Barbados, Grenada, Antigua

Favorite Quote

I Love You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

12/13/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Savannah

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ox Tails, Filet Mignon

Death Date

6/4/2013

Short Description

Radio entrepreneur and jazz bassist Benjamin Tucker (1930 - 2013 ) was Savannah, Georgia's first African American radio station owner.

Employment

Tuckrow Productions, Inc.

WSOK Radio

WLVH Radio

Hard Hearted Hannah's

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Lavender, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Benjamin Tucker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker recalls lessons from his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his father's gardening skills

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his relationship with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his home in Brentwood, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his mother's resourcefulness

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker describes his brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his neighbors in Brentwood, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker remembers Brentwood Elementary School in Brentwood, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker remembers Pearl High School in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker recalls serving in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his experience of racial discrimination on a bus ride

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Benjamin Tucker recalls discovering the jazz community in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his bass violin training

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker recalls purchasing his Tyrolean bass violin

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his introduction to New York City's jazz community

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker recalls playing with Marian McPartland at the Hickory House in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his early recordings on the West Coast

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker remembers recording 'Comin' Home Baby'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker recalls the impact of the record, 'Comin' Home Baby'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker remembers helping Bobby Hebb record 'Sunny'

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker recalls selling his publishing rights to 'Sunny'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker remembers founding Tuckrow Productions, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker remembers creating educational songs

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his venture into the radio broadcast industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker recalls purchasing WSOK Radio in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his initial challenges at WSOK Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker describes his programming at WSOK Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his community engagement at WSOK Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker recalls buying WLVH Radio in Hardeeville, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker recalls building a new broadcast tower for WLVH Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his return to musicianship

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker talks about his committee and board service

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker recalls musicians with whom he played in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker recalls Hard Hearted Hannah's jazz club in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker talks about the challenges of owning a restaurant

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker describes his commitment to Savannah's African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his social activism in Savannah, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his social activism in Savannah, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker recalls playing music at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Benjamin Tucker talks about his albums, 'Savannah Presents Jazz' and 'Christmas in Savannah'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Benjamin Tucker talks about his diabetes advocacy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker recalls playing with renowned jazz musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker remembers touring with Peggy Lee

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker remembers repairing his antique bass violin

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker talks about musicians with whom he would like to play

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker describes the changes in Brentwood, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker talks about his family members

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Benjamin Tucker remembers recording 'Comin' Home Baby'
Benjamin Tucker recalls his initial challenges at WSOK Radio
Transcript
What year was this that you make the record that was the big hit for you?$$Oh, that was--that, that was--the big hit that, that I wrote was in 1961--1960.$$And tell me the name of it one more time?$$It's called 'Comin' Home Baby,' C-O-M-I-N, Home Baby.$$And you said you wrote it for your wife?$$I wrote it for my wife. (Laughter) Yeah, it was funny--you know, it was funny. She, she was--I was at the bar one night in, in the Hickory House [New York, New York], and a guy walks in and he sits down and starts talking to me. And I tell--I tell him, I said, "Look, man, I need a place to stay. I don't have a place to stay." He said, "You don't?" I said, "No." He says, "I know a lady that, that maybe she, she could help you," and he calls Gloria [Gloria Daly Tucker]. Gloria was sick at the time. She, she just got out of the hospital. She's sick, so she tried to help me. And I was so appreciative of someone trying to help me back then, I invited her to come to the Hickory House and be my guest and see Tucker [HistoryMaker Benjamin Tucker] was making some money, you know, I, I could afford more than a cup of coffee. But she came. She didn't come when I invited her to come, she came about three or four weeks later. She was supposed to come like this week, she didn't come like until six weeks later, three, three to six weeks later. She, she pops in. When she walked through the front door, I said, that's her 'cause she came in with a girlfriend. She had this mink hat on and, and mink around her neck and leather, leather coat and I said, ooh, look out. And sure enough, it was her. She walked in, the maitre d' seated them. And when I came off the bandstand, I went straight to her and sit down next to her and I said, "Hey, there." She (laughter)--she says, "You (unclear)," I said (laughter)--I played around with her. I said, "Well, this is mine. I want you. I appreciate what you did, girl. You're something else." And it worked out. And I just kept hounding her and hounding her from day in and day out for about six months and finally she gave in. "Okay, all right, all right." And so the result is she's my wife. And I was practicing back then and I came across this melody on my instrument. I said, hm, son of a gun. Played it. In about ten minutes, I had the whole song written. So I was working with Herbie Mann at the Village Gate [New York, New York] at the time and I said, "Herbie, I'm gonna teach you a song," right. He says, "Cool." So I taught him the song. And they were recording live the next night and I taught the song to the vibraphonist and to the drummer. Each, each, each musician I would teach, teach the song. "Hey, man, this the way this go," (makes sounds). And I went up and did one take live and it was a big smash, twenty-three minutes long, one tune. Three tunes on the album, one tune that long, big hit. And here I am again smiling from jaw to jaw. The guy said (laughter)--it was funny. It was funny. I was on the road. I left--Herbie went on the road with Chris Connor and, and while I was on the road, guys would tell me, "Hey man, you got a big tune in, in Cash Box and Record World," and, and, and I said, "Oh, really? Okay." I didn't know it until I saw it and then right here, there it was.$So you purchased the radio station.$$I purchased the radio station.$$Okay.$$And--$$What was the first order of business?$$The first order of business was to find out what I was going to program and how I was going to program it. Then, I ran into a lot of opposition from the people that were--that were at the station when I--when I walked in the first day. They didn't wanna see me. They didn't wanna hear me. They didn't--'cause I'd never ran a station before in my life, but I was determined that what is needed on the air, you don't need a tremendous amount of experienced with it. All you need to do is know what direction you wanna go in. And so I had that--I had that laid out already in my own mind and down on paper, cool, so I went in. A lot of people quit. I didn't know that at WSOK [WSOK Radio, Savannah, Georgia] that at that time, they had a lot of shooting going on and other--drugs going on and, and up in the--in the ceiling there's all kinds of gunshots, you know, in the--in this--I had no idea this went down. It's a good thing that they didn't tell me this 'cause I, I--I would have probably flipped out. But then--but, but then, I, I had employees to, to, to get so down on me that they went and, and, and--to South Carolina side and bring--they brought the voodoo thing on me. I went through the voodoo. Let me tell, tell you about that voodoo business, you know. The voodoo was that they would have dead cats laid out along the path of, of--for me coming to the station and that's supposed to redirect my, my directions in life, or what I need to do (laughter). They were trying to control me, you know. "Hey, hey, hey, boy, you can't do that (unclear)." So, I would--I would get the rake every morning for about a month and rake this cat out the way. One morning I came there and there was--there was a cross like this (gesture) with, with cat heads, nine cat heads, six and three like this laying up against the--I said, I don't believe this, man. So I, I get the rake again and knock the--knock the--knock the cross down and kick the rake on in, in the back and just, just kicking it along and kicking it along. I didn't wanna touch it, you know. I just kicked it down there. Finally, they gave up (laughter). They finally gave up. But, but, but some other things went on, you know, besides that in terms of running the station, trying--when, when I finally got the station moving forward, everything quieted down, the community believed in what I was doing and I was bringing community affairs, I was dealing with economics. I, I even cleaned up the gospel program, bringing on churches and things of this nature, trying to make it--make it more better and, and trying to deal with them. And, and I became number one in the market, that was the first forty-three days of, of being there and I stayed number one for about eleven years with an AM station, with 1000 watts a day and 250 watts at night, right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Wow.

Johnny Pate

Jazz bassist, rhythm and blues arranger John W. Pate, Sr., “Johnny Pate,” was born December 5, 1923 in blue collar Chicago Heights, Illinois. Pate took an interest in the family’s upright piano and learned from the church organist who boarded with them. He attended Lincoln Elementary School, Washington Junior High and graduated from Bloom Township High School in 1942. Drafted into the United States Army, Pate joined the 218th AGF Army Band where he took up the tuba and played the upright bass in the jazz orchestra. In 1946, after his tour of service, Pate moved to New York City where bassist Oscar Pettiford helped him get started.

Pate played with the Red Allen - J.C. Higginbotham Combo and jazz violinists Stuff Smith and Eddie South. Returning to Chicago, he arranged musical numbers at the Regal Theatre with Red Saunders. Pate studied at the Midwest Conservatory of Music from1950 to 1953 and continued to perform in the 50s with Dorothy Donegan, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams, Count Basie and Ahmad Jamal. Forming the Johnny Pate Trio and Combo in 1957, he was also “house bassist” for Chicago’s Blue Note. Johnny Pate’s bass solo on “Satin Doll” is featured on the album Duke Ellington Live At The Blue Note (1959). Pate continued to perform, and appeared on albums featuring James Moody, Phil Woods, Shirley Horn, Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Smith and Monty Alexander as producer and arranger.

Contacted by Carl Davis of Chicago’s Okeh Records, Pate arranged a Curtis Mayfield song, “Monkey Time,” which was a big hit for Major Lance in 1963. Pate’s collaboration with Curtis Mayfield produced most of the well-known Impressions tracks including “Amen,” “We’re A Winner” and “Keep On Pushin.” He produced B.B. King: Live at the Regal and also arranged for Betty Everett, Gene Chandler and Jerry Butler. In the1970s Pate orchestrated and arranged Shaft In Africa, Brother on the Run, Bucktown, Bustin Loose and others. He continued to arrange in the 1980s for Peabo Bryson and Natalie Cole. Retiring to Las Vegas in the 1990s, Pate was honored in 2003 as the “Unsung Hero of Popular Music”. Pate’s son is well known bassist, Don Pate and his cousin is saxophonist, Johnny Griffin.

Accession Number

A2004.188

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/30/2004

Last Name

Pate

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Bloom High School

Washington Junior High School

Lincoln Elementry School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago Heights

HM ID

PAT03

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

None

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

It Is Never Enough.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

12/5/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Jazz bassist and music arranger Johnny Pate (1923 - ) formed the Johnny Pate Trio and Combo, and was house bassist for Chicago’s The Blue Note. Johnny Pate’s bass solo on “Satin Doll” is featured on the album "Duke Ellington Live at The Blue Note," and he has collaborated with Curtis Mayfield, produced the Impressions’s hits “Amen,” “We’re A Winner” and “Keep On Pushin’.” and arranged for B.B. King, Gene Chandler and Jerry Butler.

Employment

Verve Records

King Records

ABC-Paramount Records

Club DeLisa

Favorite Color

Blue, Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Johnny Pate's Interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Johnny Pate describes his childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Johnny Pate recalls the churches his family attended during his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Johnny Pate describes his mother's personality and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Johnny Pate remembers childhood trips to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Johnny Pate talks about his maternal relatives

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate describes his childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate describes his experiences at Lincoln Elementary School in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate remembers his early love of basketball

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate describes his favorite childhood bands

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate talks about playing basketball at Bloom High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Johnny Pate talks about his musical education and his graduation from Bloom High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Johnny Pate talks about playing music in the United States Army during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Johnny Pate describes learning to play the tuba for the United States Army during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Johnny Pate talks about playing in a band for the United States Army while stationed in Europe

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Johnny Pate talks about starting his musical career after World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Johnny Pate describes touring with Stuff Smith and Eddie South

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate explains how he became musical director for Club DeLisa in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate talks about working with Sammy Dyer

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate remembers highlights of his career from the late 1950s to early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate recalls writing arrangements for Curtis Mayfield

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate remembers some of his hit songs from the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Johnny Pate talks about his reception in Europe and the lack of regard for musicians in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Johnny Pate describes working on 'B.B. King Live at the Regal'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate talks about working on the soundtrack for 'Super Fly'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate talks about his television and movie scores

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate talks about producing for Peabo Bryson in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate talks about arranging music and his favorite musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Johnny Pates shares his opinion of hip-hop music

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Johnny Pate reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Johnny Pate reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Johnny Pate remembers celebrating his success with his mother

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Johnny Pate talks about working as a producer for Verve Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Johnny Pate talks about his work with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada and the UNLV Jazz Ensemble

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Johnny Pate talks about his radio show on KUNV

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Johnny Pate describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Johnny Pate narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Johnny Pate narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Johnny Pate narrates his photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Johnny Pate talks about working with Sammy Dyer
Johnny Pate recalls writing arrangements for Curtis Mayfield
Transcript
And I worked very closely with the producer name--his name was Sammy Dyer. You probably--sometime or other, the old-timers will probably remember a dance group called The Dyerettes.$$Right. Sammy Dyer is still well-known in Chicago [Illinois]; there's a school of dance, a (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Sammy Dyer was a--Sammy Dyer had a, I think, a school of dance, and he did so much, but Sammy produced the shows at Club DeLisa. So I worked closely with him, working out whatever production numbers we did. And during this time, this is when I met Lurlean Hunter and Joe Williams because they were the male and the female singers at the club because they kept a male and a female singer because whatever production things that Sammy Dyer came up with, he utilized the male and the female singers, and one of the things that he did with Joe Williams, and we talked about it for years; in fact, so many people talked about it. Sammy Dyer came up with an idea, and he had Joe singing "Vesti La Giubba" from 'Pagliacci' [Ruggero Leoncavallo]; Joe did it in Italian in a big clown suit. He wore this clown suit right on stage and he sang it in Italian--legit, and after he had finished this legitimate rendition that Sammy Dyer had choreographed a swing arrangement of it, and I had written this swing arrangement on 'Pagliacci' that the girls danced to at the--'course I wrote the shows at Club DeLisa for, I think, two or three years, and I can't remember because at that--that's when I really had a chance to really do some really arranging that really also helped me really start getting better and better at it.$$Now that's really some challenging stuff going on (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, yes.$$--opera to be-bop.$$Oh, yeah, goin' from opera to swing, swing and be-bop, and we did so many different type things. Sammy, Sammy Dyer was, you know, always on top of everything. He knew all the Broadway shows that were going. I remember 'South Pacific' had come in around that time, and we did one whole production about--on 'South Pacific' at the time, and 'course we were taking, you know, the well-known tunes from a lotta these shows and, and giving the swing treatment with, with the girls dancing, you know. So that was a lot of very good experience.$Now this is like in the '60s [1960s] now. We're like talking about '63 [1963] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) We're, we're, we're probably getting up to the '60s [1960s] now.$$Yeah, this is nineteen--I remember it was the fall of '63 [1963].$$Sixty-three [1963], okay.$$When 'Monkey Time' came out, I was in high school, a freshman, that year.$$All right.$$And Major Lance became this big star. We'd never heard of him before.$$All right. Well, 'Monkey Time' was written by Curtis Mayfield. Curtis wrote 'Monkey Time,' and Curtis [Mayfield] was, was an associated producer with [HistoryMaker] Carl Davis, and so he was doing quite a bit of work with Carl, and of course after 'Monkey Time' got to be a hit, we did an LP on it, and some other things, with Major Lance. And then Curtis approached me; he said, "Well, you"--he says, "We're on the ABC-Paramount [Records] label." And he said, "I've got a group called The Impressions," and he said, "We, we've gotta, we've gotta record pretty soon," and he said, "I sure like the arrangements that you are writing," and he said, "Would you," you know, "arrange for us?" Well, by that time, I'd began to--I was getting so much work arranging until I just put the bass fiddle aside and I stopped playing completely because I was getting all this work writing. Because after I recorded The Impressions on a few things, ABC-Paramount Records approached me and they said, "We'd like for you to come work for us as a record producer--working for ABC-Paramount Records."$$Now, let me--before we go to the producing aspect of it, I mean--now The Impressions--a lot of the songs were written by Curtis Mayfield, but I don't think a lotta people who're gonna be watching this--and maybe they do understand and I'm--I assume that they don't understand what's--what an arranger does to a, a song that's written.$$All right. What an arranger does is--we'll go back to Curtis Mayfield; we'll take Curtis Mayfield as our guide. Curtis was an excellent composer-songwriter. Curtis would sit down with his guitar and actually create a song. He couldn't put it down on paper, couldn't write a note of music, but he could do the basic song, and he would sit down and play the basic song into a tape recorder and bring it, bring it to me, and what I would do would be take this basic song and put instruments, musical instruments, around it and do what we call write an arrangement. There's a fine line between a orchestration and arrangement, yeah. When an arranger writes, he writes for these instruments which--and it turns out to be an orchestration, and that's what an arranger does; he takes instruments--'course, Curtis would sit down and he says, "Well, I think maybe I can hear some strings on this one." He could hear the strings on it but I would have to write them, and this is what arrangers do. So singers and songwriters basically have the basic melody of a song, but a lotta people say a lotta times the arrangement can really make the record. So, with Curtis' basic idea and with, I guess, my arrangement, then it turns out to be something, something special, but the two really need each other.