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Jimmy Heath

Musician and jazz composer Jimmy Heath was born on October 25, 1926 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Arlethia and Percy Heath Sr. He attended Walter George Smith School in South Philadelphia and graduated from Williston Industrial School in Wilmington North Carolina in 1943.

As a teenager, Heath took music lessons and played the alto saxophone in the high school marching band. He also played in a jazz band called the Melody Barons and toured with the Calvin Todd Band in 1945, before joining a dance band in Omaha, Nebraska led by Nat Towles. Heath later formed his own big band, including John Coltrane, Specs Wright and Nelson Boyd. He also recorded with trumpeter Howard McGhee, who called him “Little Bird” because of his affinity to Charlie Parker. In 1948, McGhee took Heath and his older brother Percy to Paris, France for the First International Jazz Festival headlined by Coleman Hawkins and including Erroll Garner.

In 1949, he recorded his first big band arrangement on Gil Fuller Orchestra’s Bebop Boys. Dizzy Gillespie then hired Heath to play in his band with Coltrane and Specs Wright. In 1952, Heath switched to Tenor sax and played with the Symphony Sid All Stars, featuring Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Milt Jackson, Kenny Clarke and his brother Percy. In 1953, Heath recorded his composition C.T.A with Miles Davis and another with J.J. Johnson which included Clifford Brown.

In 1959, Heath rejoined Miles Davis and made his debut album for Riverside Records called The Thumper followed by Really Big in 1960, The Quota in 1962, and Triple Threat in 1963. Heath recorded eight more albums as a leader. In 1975, he formed the Heath Brothers, with his two brothers, Percy and Albert “Tootie” Heath and Stanley Cowell, and recorded albums Live At The Public Theater on CBS for which they received a Grammy nomination, As We Were Saying and Endurance released in 2010.

In 1987, Heath became a professor of music at the Aaron Copland School Of Music at Queens College. There, he premiered his first symphonic work, Three Ears with Maurice Peress. In 2010, Heath’s autobiography was published by Temple University Press, I Walked With Giants, and it was voted “Best Book of The Year” by the Jazz Journalist Association. Heath recorded three big band records, Little Man Big Band produced by Bill Cosby, Turn Up The Heath and Togetherness live at the Blue Note. Vocalist Roberta Gambarini recorded twelve Heath songs for the album, Connecting Spirits.

Heath received a Life Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America and the 2003 American Jazz Master Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was nominated for three Grammy Awards and has received three honorary doctorate degrees. He was also the first jazz musician to receive an honorary doctorate in music from the Juilliard School in New York.

Heath has one son, James Mtume, from a previous relationship and two children with his wife, Mona Heath; their daughter, Roslyn Heath and their son, Jeffrey Heath.

Jimmy Heath was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 9, 2016 and January 17, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.002

Sex

Male

Interview Date

01/17/2017

Last Name

Heath

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Edward

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Walter George Smith School

Williston Middle School of Math, Science & Technology

First Name

Jimmy

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

HEA01

Favorite Season

Birthday

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Life Is Music And Music Is Life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/25/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Musician and jazz composer Jimmy Heath (1926 - ) was known for his jazz and bebop contributions, notably his pieces “C.T.A.” and “Gingerbread Boy,” and as a member of the Heath Brothers. He was the first jazz musician to receive an honorary doctorate in music from the Juilliard School in New York.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jimmy Heath's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath talks about his paternal uncle Willie Johnson

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath remembers his father, Percy Heath, Sr.

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath talks about his step grandfather's business in Wilmington, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath recalls his family's church involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath talks about his sister, Elizabeth Heath Reid

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jimmy Heath describes his brother, Percy Heath, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jimmy Heath recalls the musical career of his brother Albert "Tootie" Heath

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath talks about other popular musical families

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath talks about his brother Percy Heath, Jr.'s musical education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath describes his family's involvement in music

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath remembers living between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath recalls his decision to play the saxophone

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath remembers his early musical experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath recalls attending Williston High School in Wilmington, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jimmy Heath describes the differences between swing and bebop music, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath describes the differences between swing and bebop music, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath remembers hearing Charlie Parker's and Dizzy Gillespie's music for the first time

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath talks about playing with John Coltrane and Charlie Parker

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath recalls organizing a benefit concert for Mary Etta Jordan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath talks about his son James Mtume

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath remembers playing in Dizzy Gillespie's band

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath recalls the jazz community in his early career

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath describes Dizzy Gillespie's personality

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Jimmy Heath remembers saxophonist John Coltrane

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jimmy Heath talks about John Coltrane's music and the spirituality of jazz

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath remembers composer Sun Ra

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath talks about drummer Specs Wright

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath talks about the reaction to bebop music in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath reflects upon the lack of institutional support for jazz in the United States, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath reflects upon the lack of institutional support for jazz in the United States, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath recalls the start of his heroin addiction

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath remembers being convicted of selling heroin

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath talks about the impacts of heroin on the jazz community, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Jimmy Heath talks about the impacts of heroin on the jazz community, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jimmy Heath talks about recovering from heroin addiction while incarcerated

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath remembers recording with Columbia Records

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath talks about his marriage to Mona Brown Heath

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath recalls recording with Riverside Records

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath remembers Miles Davis

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath talks about playing modal jazz with Miles Davis

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath describes his album 'Really Big!'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath talks about the range of wind instruments used in jazz

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath talks about moving to New York City in 1964

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Jimmy Heath talks about playing with John Coltrane and Charlie Parker
Jimmy Heath recalls the jazz community in his early career
Transcript
Now did you form a big band yourself at some point (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes.$$Okay.$$When I came home, back home from Nat Towles, I had copied a couple of arrangements from their book; and I had, I wanted to start a big band of my own in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] and I did that around 1947.$$Okay.$$And I was fortunate enough, Coltrane [John Coltrane] had just come out of the [U.S.] Navy with a friend, another friend of mine, they were in the Navy together, named Bill Massey, a trumpeter. And Bill introduced me to Coltrane and I asked John, I said, "Man, I got a big band, man, would you play, would you consider playing?" He said, "Yeah." So he played in my big band and that's what this picture is about from 1947 with me conducting the band and Trane is between me and Charlie Parker. Charlie Parker is sitting in with my band. And he had used my horn the whole week, Charlie Parker used my horn in the Downbeat club with Miles Davis, Max Roach, and his band, the quintet. And I asked him would he play this concert with my big band and Bird said yes, he would do it. And he did it. And between myself and Coltrane is, I mean, between Bird and myself is Coltrane with a cigarette looking at Charlie Parker like this (gesture). And I was very honored to have Bird playing my horn for a week, his was in the pawnshop. And to, to, I used to give it when I was teaching at Queens College [Queens, New York], I would give a copy of it, this same photo that shows that Trane is in complete awe of Charlie Parker--$$Now, this is (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) as we all were. 'Cause a lot of young kids they come up in the college and say, "Oh, Coltrane, Coltrane, Coltrane." I say well, why is he looking at Bird like that (gesture)? 'Cause he's, (laughter) 'cause Charlie Parker was doing some of that stuff he learned to do before he did it.$$Yeah, so this is, I mean, anyway, just thinking about this is (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And that's why I wrote the book, 'I Walked With Giants' ['I Walked With Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath,' Jimmy Heath and Joseph McLaren].$$Yeah.$$'Cause I'm around Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, man.$$Well--$$I met Duke [Duke Ellington] once, but Pops [Pops Foster], Louis Armstrong, and all these people, I walked with giants.$$So you're twenty years old but, you know, Coltrane is just kind of starting out.$$No, he was twenty, we're the same--$$Okay. Yeah.$$He's a month older than me. September the 23rd, I'm October the 25th of '26 [1926].$$Yeah, but, okay. You're twenty years old and you got a group that includes John Coltrane who you're the same age but you got like, you--$$Benny Golson.$$--Charlie Parker is sitting in your, in your group--$$Sitting in with my band.$$And he's playing gigs with Miles Davis and--?$$His band.$$His--$$He's playing at the Downbeat club in Philadelphia.$One thing I didn't ask you about, and there's reference in the research here, that a lot of the musicians, when they would come to town [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] they, you would bring them to your house?$$Yes.$$Okay.$$Yeah. My mother [Arlethia Wall Heath] would, well, well, my mother and father [Percy Heath, Sr.] were so in love with music, they would allow us to bring any, you know, we'd bring a whole band down there and mom would fix some food. So we brought Dizzy's band, that's when he first told me, he said, "Man," I say, "Dizzy [Dizzy Gillespie], I want to write." He said, "Man, if you want to learn how to write you gotta get to the keyboard, you know." And I, that was about four or five members of his band and they came to the house. I had the whole Horace Silver band, I had the whole Yusef Lateef band. I would invite everybody. Charlie Parker, (unclear) invited him down to my house, you know, my mother was in tune with that.$$It, it seems, and while I know it's true that, that, that there's a, like being a creative musician puts you in a, almost like a fraternity; right?$$Well, you know, it was different in those days because the professionals were not snobs and they weren't ego maniacs. I call them Ego Stravinskys.$$(Laughter).$$They weren't Ego Stravinskys. They would tell you anything that they knew so they were the teachers, mentors. We didn't have it in all the colleges and universities so we learned from our predecessors and that's the way we did. And they were, were humble and they gave us whatever they had learned, they'd give it to us. You know, they didn't charge us nothing, you ain't gotta go to no classroom and all, if they knew something they'd show you. It was a, a brotherhood thing, fraternity, or whatever you want to call it.

Sonny Rollins

Jazz composer and saxophonist Sonny Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York City. His parents, immigrants from the U.S. Virgin Islands, raised him in Manhattan’s central Harlem and Sugar Hill neighborhoods. Rollins received his first alto saxophone at seven years old; and was heavily influenced by saxophonist Charlie Parker by the time he enrolled at Edward W. Stitt Junior High School. Rollins switched to tenor saxophone, and was mentored by pianist Thelonious Monk.

Upon graduating from high school, Rollins made his first recordings with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell, and Fats Navarro. He went on to record with such jazz legends as Miles Davis, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. In 1954, Rollins’ compositions “Oleo,” “Airegin,” and “Doxy” were featured on Miles Davis’ Bags' Groove. He later moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he became immersed in the jazz scene at Hyde Park’s Bee Hive club. When Clifford Brown and Max Roach’s band visited Chicago, Rollins was invited to join them, returning to New York City in the summer of 1956. After the tragic deaths of Brown and the band’s pianist, Rollins left the band to lead his own group, recording the acclaimed album Saxophone Colossus, which included Rollins’ calypso-inspired composition “St. Thomas.” In 1957, Rollins pioneered the use of bass and drums, without piano, as accompaniment for saxophone solos, a format later adopted by such band leaders like Lew Tabackin, Branford Marsalis, and Ornette Coleman. In 1958, he recorded Freedom Suite, which received a limited release before being repackaged by Riverside Records.

In 1959, Rollins spent two years practicing yoga and playing saxophone on the Williamsburg Bridge. In 1962, he released The Bridge, which was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. He also produced five other albums. Rollins experimented with free jazz and noise on East Broadway Run Down, released in 1962. He took another hiatus from 1969 to 1971, travelling to Jamaica and to an ashram in Powai, India. Rollins then began recording more R&B and funk-oriented tracks with Milestone Records, appearing at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and on The Tonight Show. In 1998, Rollins, a dedicated environmental advocate, released Global Warming.

Rollins recorded over sixty albums, and was the subject of many documentaries. He received numerous awards and honors, including the Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.

Sonny Rollins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 3, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.113

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/3/2016

Last Name

Rollins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Organizations
Schools

P.S. 89

P.S. 46 Arthur Tappan School

I.S. 164 Edward W. Stitt Junior High School

Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics

First Name

Sonny

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

ROL03

Favorite Season

None

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

It's All Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/7/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cauliflower

Short Description

Jazz composer and saxophonist Sonny Rollins (1930 - ) composed the jazz standards “Oleo,” “Airegin,” and “Doxy,” and released over sixty albums in his name, including Saxophone Colossus (1956) and Freedom Suite (1958).

Employment

Doxy Records

Favorite Color

Red

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sonny Rollins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sonny Rollins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sonny Rollins describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sonny Rollins lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sonny Rollins describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sonny Rollins remembers his father's U.S. Navy career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sonny Rollins recalls his father's requests to be assigned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sonny Rollins describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sonny Rollins describes the sounds of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sonny Rollins remembers his early interest in blues music

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Sonny Rollins recalls learning to play the saxophone

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sonny Rollins recalls the early influence of Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sonny Rollins recalls his requests for lessons from older jazz musicians

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sonny Rollins remembers joining Thelonius Monk's band

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sonny Rollins remembers the influence of a childhood prank, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sonny Rollins remembers the influence of a childhood prank, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sonny Rollins reflects upon the impact of his spirituality on his music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sonny Rollins talks about the prevalence of drugs in the jazz community

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sonny Rollins describes his imprisonment on Rikers Island in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sonny Rollins remembers his attempts to stop using heroin

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sonny Rollins describes the United States Narcotic Farm in Lexington, Kentucky

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sonny Rollins remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sonny Rollins remembers his efforts to avoid a drug relapse

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sonny Rollins recalls his return to the music scene

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sonny Rollins remembers moving to the Wabash Avenue YMCA in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sonny Rollins recalls traveling with the Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sonny Rollins talks about playing with the Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sonny Rollins remembers the deaths of Clifford Brown and Richie Powell

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sonny Rollins remembers the aftermath of the death of Clifford Brown

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sonny Rollins lists his early albums

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sonny Rollins remembers Miles Davis

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sonny Rollins describes his first wife

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sonny Rollins describes the genres of his music

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sonny Rollins talks about his protest music

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sonny Rollins remembers his album, 'Freedom Suite'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sonny Rollins talks about his Mohawk hairstyle

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sonny Rollins remembers his first sabbatical from recording

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Sonny Rollins recalls practicing on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sonny Rollins recalls developing an interest in yoga

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sonny Rollins remembers his trip to India, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sonny Rollins remembers his trip to India, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sonny Rollins recalls playing the saxophone in India

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sonny Rollins describes his homes in New York

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sonny Rollins talks about his musical development in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sonny Rollins remembers playing with bagpiper Rufus Harley

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sonny Rollins recalls popularizing the unaccompanied saxophone solo

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sonny Rollins describes his media appearances

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sonny Rollins recalls his work to change the perceptions of jazz music

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sonny Rollins remembers recording with the Rolling Stones

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sonny Rollins talks about the Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sonny Rollins describes his album, 'Global Warming'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sonny Rollins remembers the attacks of September 11, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sonny Rollins describes his performance after September 11, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sonny Rollins remembers his wife's death

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sonny Rollins talks about Doxy Records

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sonny Rollins talks about contemporary jazz music

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sonny Rollins talks about jazz expression

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sonny Rollins talks about his idea of unity

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sonny Rollins reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sonny Rollins shares his advice to aspiring jazz artists

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sonny Rollins reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Sonny Rollins narrates his photographs

Roy Ayers

Jazz composer and vibraphonist Roy Ayers was born on September 10, 1940 in Los Angeles, California to Ruby Ayers and Roy Ayers, Sr. Ayers’ mother, a schoolteacher and piano instructor, began teaching him music when he was only a toddler. Growing up near Central Avenue, the heart of the West Coast jazz scene, Ayers was exposed to local luminaries from an early age. At five years old, Ayers was given his first set of vibraphone mallets by bandleader Lionel Hampton. Ayers attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where many of his classmates also went on to become famous jazz and R&B artists.

Ayers first played steel guitar and piano and did not study the vibraphone until meeting vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson at age seventeen. At twenty-two, Ayers began his prolific recording career as a sideman for jazz saxophonist Curtis Amy. In 1963, Ayers released his first album, West Coast Vibes, and went on to record with the Jack Wilson Quartet, Chico Hamilton, and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra in the 1960s, before joining up with jazz flutist Herbie Mann at The Lighthouse club in Hermosa Beach, California. Mann produced three of Ayers’ albums for Atlantic Records, and Ayers was a principal soloist on Mann’s hit album Memphis Underground. In 1970, Ayers moved to Manhattan and formed Roy Ayers Ubiquity, marking his move into jazz fusion. Ubiquity released a number of records on Polydor Records, including hits like ‘We Live in Brooklyn’ and ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine.’ As the decade closed, Ayers went solo with songs like Let’s Do It. In 1980, Ayers began collaborating with Nigerian musician Fela Kuti and formed Uno Melodic Records. Ayers considered In The Dark, released on Columbia Records in 1984, as one of his best recordings.

He continued releasing yearly albums through the 1990s. At the same time, Ayers’ work was remixed, covered, and sampled by the emerging hip hop generation that included such artists as Mos Def, Puff Daddy, and Mary J. Blige. In 1993, Ayers appeared on Gang Starr rapper Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1, one of the first albums to combine a live jazz band with hip hop production. Singer Erykah Badu has dubbed Ayers the Godfather of Neo-Soul.

Roy Ayers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 19, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.022

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/19/2016

Last Name

Ayers

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Thomas Jefferson High School

Los Angeles City College

Wadsworth Avenue Elementary School

First Name

Roy

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

AYE01

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

What's Up?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/10/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Jazz composer and vibraphonist Roy Ayers (1940 - ), a prolific jazz musician with more sampled hits than any other artist, was dubbed the “Godfather of Neo-Soul” in the 1990s.

Employment

The Jack Wilson Quartet

The Gerald Wilson Orchestra

Atlantic Records

Roy Ayers Ubiquity

Uno Melodic Records

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roy Ayers' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Royer Ayers lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roy Ayers describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roy Ayers describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roy Ayers describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roy Ayers recalls the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roy Ayers describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roy Ayers talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roy Ayers recalls his early interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roy Ayers remembers Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roy Ayers remembers Bobby Hutcherson

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Roy Ayers remembers his early musical work with Curtis Amy

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Roy Ayers talks about recording his first solo album, 'West Coast Vibes'

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Roy Ayers describes his musical influences

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Roy Ayers remembers performing with Chico Hamilton

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Roy Ayers describes his collaboration with Gerald Wilson

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roy Ayers recalls touring with Herbie Mann

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roy Ayers recalls his musical collaboration with Sadao Watanabe

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roy Ayers remembers the release of 'Virgo Vibes'

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roy Ayers describes the 'Stoned Soul Picnic' and 'Daddy Bug' albums

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roy Ayers recalls the formation of Roy Ayers Ubiquity

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roy Ayers talks about the hit song 'We Live in Brooklyn Baby'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roy Ayers remembers signing a contract with Polydor Records

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roy Ayers recalls composing the soundtrack to 'Coffy'

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Roy Ayers describes talks about the popularity of his music among hip hop artists

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Roy Ayers recalls leaving Polydor Records

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Roy Ayers talks about organizing the musical group RAMP

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Roy Ayers talks about his inspiration for 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine'

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Roy Ayers describes his friendship with Fela Kuti

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roy Ayers talks about Fela Kuti

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roy Ayers talks about the sampling of his music

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roy Ayers talks about founding Uno Melodic Records

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roy Ayers describes the musical style of his album, 'In the Dark'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roy Ayers recalls his collaboration with Lonnie Liston Smith

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roy Ayers remembers the honorary Roy Ayers Day in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roy Ayers recalls performing at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, England

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roy Ayers talks about the political messages of his music

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roy Ayers talks about his collaborations with hip hop artists

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Roy Ayers reflects upon his creative process

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Roy Ayers describes his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Roy Ayers describes his plans for the future

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Roy Ayers reflects upon his life and legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Roy Ayers talks about James Baldwin

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Roy Ayers reflects upon his career

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

13$6

DATitle
Roy Ayers talks about recording his first solo album, 'West Coast Vibes'
Roy Ayers talks about the hit song 'We Live in Brooklyn Baby'
Transcript
And then it came time, shortly thereafter, 1963 you were twenty-three years old and you recorded your first album that was yours, 'West Coast Vibes.'$$Right. Exactly.$$Tell me about 'West Coast Vibes.'$$Leonard Feather, I was performing with Vi Redd, Vi Redd, a saxophonist of an older, older generation. She was my sister's age, around that, and, my oldest sister [Thomasina Ayers] and she asked me to be on an album with a lot of West Coast musicians. And, I said, "I'd be happy to." And, I, I came on the album and it was really wonderful and rather than the person that did the production was Leonard Feather. He's the writer of the, of the, he's the writer of the Encyclopedia of Jazz, Volume One, Two, and Three ['Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz.' Leonard Feather]. And, he said, "Roy [HistoryMaker Roy Ayers], have you ever recorded an album before?" And, I said, "No, I haven't. I have not. I'm not ready." He said, "Yes, you are." (Laughter) I was blown away. I said, "Wow." He said, "Yes." You know. He's a white guy but really a great guy, really a great guy. And, he said, "Yes, you are." And, he took me into the studio, and that's my first album, that 'West Coast Vibes,' there (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yep.$(Simultaneous) And then you also made another huge hit which is 'We Live in Brooklyn.'$$Right. 'We Live in Brooklyn,' Harry Whitaker wrote it, right, right, right. Harry Whitaker wrote, wrote that song.$$That has become iconic, for sure. Well (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Sure, with rappers too, right.$$But, at the time, you know before we get to the, the more recent times, but at the time when you, when you recorded that, what was going on in the world that made this anchor in Brooklyn [New York] so important.$$Well, we, I guess, 'We Live in Brooklyn Baby' because the song, the song made sense when my piano player, Harry Whitaker, he died too. Doggone, so many great guys that pass on, you know. But, Harry Whitaker said, "Roy [HistoryMaker Roy Ayers], you should do this song." And, when Ron Carter was playing the bass finger, Ron could not get the bass finger together. He did get it together but he could not get it together. And, so, Harry Whitaker is so funny he said, "We got 'em," (laughter). It was so funny because Ron Carter is such a genius of a bass player and he plays everything. He could play anything. He couldn't play it (scatting). It was very difficult for him to play that (scatting). Oh, my god. And, so, Harry said, "We got 'em," (laughter). That fool's so crazy. I couldn't believe it. I was, I was crazy because I was laughing. I said, "Oh, you crazy man, you're crazy." He said, I said, "You gotta be going crazy." He said, "Yeah," (Laughter). Anyway, but that was, that was interesting because he said, "We got, we got Ron Carter," (laughter).