JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #20
CURTIS AMY / PAUL BRYANT QUINTET
MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1962
CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA
Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved
Jimmie Baker and Steve Allen tapped the Curtis Amy / Paul Bryant Quintet for the 20th segment of Jazz Scene USA. Both Curtis and Bryant had recently recorded for Dick Bock’s Pacific Jazz label and were constantly booked into the top jazz clubs operating in Los Angeles at the time. The following liner notes from their Pacific Jazz album, The Blues Message (PJ-9), supply the background for their emergence on the label:
The small clubs around LA are producing a continuous flow of rising young jazz stars, and veterans as well. Realizing this, Richard Bock, President of Pacific Jazz, has showcased some of the better ones to the jazz world on his label. This album exemplifies Bock’s foresight—for the performers gathered for this record date had previously played at various clubs around town. After recording this album they found much to their delight, that they functioned well as a quintet, and deciding that a good thing must not be dissolved—will stay together as a quintet and call ‘Dynamite Jackson‘s‘ their home.
Dynamite Jackson’s, on Adams Blvd., in the heart of the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles is a small, intimate club which caters to a predominately Negro clientele—and is a summit meeting ground for some of the top jazz combos in this town, or any other town for that matter. It was at Dynamite’s that Bock first came in contact with Curtis Amy, one of the leaders on this record date. Also playing with Curtis was Roy Brewster, who is the valve trombonist. Out of this casual meeting developed an idea, which when it materialized became the foundation for this album, and a ‘cooking’ new group destined for great things.
Curtis, a wailing tenor saxophonist, was born October 11, 1929 in Houston, Texas. He started his musical training at the tender age of four with clarinet lessons. After picking up a degree in music at Kentucky State College, he Journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky to a club named the Top Hat. The ‘gig’ at the Top Hat is what Curtis considers his first big break. From there he toured the midwest circuit for a couple of years, and then comes an interruption in his musical career—when he turned his talents to a more scholarly endeavor—Joining the ranks of the educators for a couple of years—teaching school in Jackson, Tennessee. In 1955 Curtis came to LA where he has since remained. Although he lists most of LA’S top clubs in his credits, as well as recording sessions with the jazz ‘giant’ Dizzy Gillespie and Perry Lee, this is Curtis’ first LP as a leader.
Curtis carries himself very well in his first effort as a leader. He is a hard driving tenor saxophonist who plays jazz in a bluesy and very funky vein. There is tenacity in his musical range—although you are always aware of a hard-driving message—which is evident in his ballad renditions, which remind you sometimes of a man walking on a tightrope. This Is The Blues, Going Down and Catch Me A Woman, Blues Message, are original tunes written by
Roy Brewster has also been a fixture on the scene at Dynamite’s. Roy was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, March 17, 1934. Although he is now a very accomplished valve trombonist, Roy started his musical training at fifteen years old with the trumpet. He came to Los Angeles at a very early age, and finished his schooling at Jefferson High School. After graduation Roy toured on the road with various rock ‘n’ roll groups, before joining forces with Curtis in 1959. This is his first recording session.
Bock, the imaginative idea man, kept thinking of possible combinations that would click on this record date, and hit up on the idea of Paul Bryant, who was putting in his work at Mardi’s—a top flight LA jazz club. Paul was selected as co-leader for the session, a capacity which he ably fills. The twenty-seven year old native of New Jersey has been in show business most of his life, Paul started taking piano lessons at the age of four. Most of his younger years were devoted to motion pictures, TV, and stage work. In 1958, while working with the Claude McLin Trio at Dynamite’s, Paul switched from piano to organ. The reason for the switch: ‘better expression.’ When asked to clarify that statement, the hard-driving Paul, who’s every statement on organ is clarity at first hearing—stated: “there is just so much you can do on piano, but so much more you can do on organ.”
James ‘Jimmy’ Miller was timekeeping on drums at Mardi’s for Paul when discovered. Jimmy has worked in the LA area since 1947, and was in the rhythm section when Curtis was picking up his paycheck at Mardi’s. He was born May 15, 1930 in Akron, Ohio. At sixteen years old he started playing drums. T-Bone Walker gave him his first big break, and the young drummer toured the country with the famous blues guitarist. Record sessions are not new to Jimmy, having worked with such well known names as ‘Wild’ Bill Davis, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ernie Freeman, et al.
Clarence S. Jones is the bassist. Clarence was born December 27, 1926, in Los Angeles, He graduated from Jefferson High School (Roy’s alma mater), and studied music at Westlake College of Music (Hollywood). Clarence is a veteran sideman who has played in most of the LA clubs at one time or another. At various times he has put in stints with such west coast ‘giants’ as Shorty Rogers, Harold Land, Art Pepper, et al. Just prior to this recording session, Clarence returned from New York where he worked with a group led by Shorty Rogers and Harold Land. Also among the bassist’s credits is a LP done with Kenny Dorham.
Now Bock had the ingredients for a first rank ‘cooking’ session. So now you can hear what I heard—and felt—and knew—that this quintet has what it takes. The tunes are mostly blues, with a soul-searching message that is evident throughout. But listen, and dig. And when you do I know you will want to drop by Dynamite’s and hear some of this ‘blues preaching.’ So without further ado, may I have the pleasure of introducing to you what I know you will term a revelation – A funky, hard-driving quintet led by Curtis Amy and Paul Bryant.
(Los Angeles Columnist)
Liner notes – PJ-9
© EMI Capitol Music
Curtis Amy was the subject of an article in Down Beat written by John Tynan that appeared in the December 6, 1962 issue. The host of Jazz Scene USA, Oscar Brown, Jr. was on the cover and also received a lengthy profile in the same issue of Down Beat.
Curtis Amy and Paul Bryant recorded for Pacific Jazz in other ensemble settings as well and were featured jazz artists in the new Pacific Jazz line.
The quintet that recorded The Blues Message, did not appear on this segment of Jazz Scene USA. Bob Whitlock replaced Clarence S. Jones on bass and Tony Bazley occupied the drum chair in place of Jimmy Miller.
The Curtis Amy / Paul Bryant Quintet: Curtis Amy, tenor saxophone; Paul Bryant, organ; Roy Brewster, valve trombone; Bob Whitlock, bass and Tony Bazley, drums.
The Jazz Scene USA show with Amy and Bryant is not available on YouTube, but another combo fronted by Curtis Amy appeared on Frank Evans’ Frankly Jazz TV series that was underwritten by Dick Bock and Pacific Jazz Records. Here is a segment from that program with Amy’s group playing “Katanga” from his Pacific Jazz album of the same name featuring Dupree Bolton on trumpet.
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr.
Executive Producer: Steve Allen
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Director: Steve Binder
Associate Producer: Penny Stewart
Associate Director: George Turpin
Technical Director: Dick Hall
Lighting Director: Leard Davis
Audio: Larry Eaton
Art Director: Robert Tyler Lee
Jazz Consultant: John Tynan
Title Films: Grant Velie
Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny
Jacob Wendt says
Hi James, thank you for all of your work! I was wondering where you found the magazine / newspaper page with all of the club ads – is this from Downbeat? LA Times? Somewhere else? I’m doing some research on the Watkins Hotel and the Rubaiyat Room, and have found this source with more advertisement clippings, but it doesn’t list where they’re from. It seems like it’s the same source:
James Harrod says
Either the Los Angeles Sentinel or the California Eagle, the dominant Black newspapers from the era.