JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #23
CLARENCE “BIG” MILLER / THE RUSS FREEMAN QUARTET
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1962
CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA
Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved
Jimmie Baker and Steve Allen represented the vocal realm of jazz on Jazz Scene USA with a diverse sampling of vocalists and styles. Nancy Wilson, Lou Rawls, Oscar Brown, Jr., and Mark Murphy preceded the decision to feature Clarence “Big” Miller for the twenty-third taping of the series.
Clarence H. Miller, known to his friends as “Big”, was one of the most impressive new blues singers on the late Fifties scene. With a childhood background of church singing and piano and trombone studies, he became a professional musician in 1946 after Army service, when he led a band touring with a repertoire largely based on Louis Jordan “jump” numbers, before switching to bass and joining Jay McShann s earthy, Kansas City based outfit. Influenced by Walter Brown and Joe Turner, he started singing blues with the band and moved to Chicago and Cincinatti, forming a group with trombonist Al Grey which went to Texas. A year touring the small Texas towns honed his gift for blues singing and a move to New York led to his big breakthrough. He made a debut LP, Did you ever hear the blues?, for United Artists, went with Nat Pierce s band into Birdland and then, through singer Jon Hendricks, was invited to the 1960 Monterey Jazz Festival. That led to Hollywood. Stints at Shelly Manne’s celebrated club and an album, Revelation and the Blues, with Ben Webster confirmed his status as a front-rank blues singer with a unique style which was influenced by bop.
(Editorial Review copy from THE AMAZON PAGE)
Clarence “Big” Miller’s first album as leader was on the United Artists label, Did You Ever Hear The Blues? featuring blues penned by Langston Hughes. Miller was backed by three different assemblages of musicians for the February 1959 date. The first configuration consisted of Clarence “Big” Miller (vcl), Pat Brooks (tp), Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Phil Woods (as), Zoot Sims (ts), Al Cohn (bar), Jimmy Jones (p), Chuck Wayne, Turk Van Lake (g), Chet Amsterdam (b) and Elvin Jones (d). The second grouping included Pat Brooks (tp), Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Phil Woods (as), Zoot Sims (ts), Sol Schlinger (bar), Everett Barksdale, Kenny Burrell (g), Chet Amsterdam (b) and Jo Jones (d). The third assemblage of musicians backing Miller included Pat Brooks (tp), Vic Dickenson (tb), Phil Woods (as), Zoot Sims (ts), Al Cohn (bar), Jimmy Jones (p) Billy Bauer, Barry Galbraith (g) Chet Amsterdam (b) and Gus Johnson (d).
Miller’s second album as leader was for Columbia, Revelation And The Blues. That date in Los Angeles, October 18, 1960, also varied the musicians backing Miller. The first session had Clarence “Big” Miller (vcl) accompanied by Ben Webster (ts), Gildo Mahones (p), Bobby Gibbons (g), Ike Isaacs (b) and Jimmy Wormworth (d). The second session on November 8, 1960 featured Clarence “Big” Miller (vcl) accompanied by Plas Johnson (ts), Ernie Freeman (p), Jim Hall (g), Red Mitchell (b) and Frank Butler (d).
Clarence “Big” Miller had a third album under his leadership by the time he made his appearance on Jazz Scene USA: Sings, Twists, Shouts And Preaches: Clarence “Big” Miller with the Bob Florence Orchestra. This album was also recorded for Columbia and featured Clarence “Big” Miller (vcl), John Audino, Jules Chaiken, Tony Terran (tp); Bob Enevoldsen, Herbie Harper, Gail Martin, Bob Pring (tb); Bernie Fleischer, Bud Shank (as); Bill Perkins (ts); John Lowe (bar); Ray Sherman (p); Bill Pittman (g) or John Pisano (g); Buddy Clark (b) and Frank Capp (d). Bob Florence (arr,cond).
The script is not clear regarding the composition performed by the Russ Freeman group. In addition to “Big” Miller sitting this one out, Lorenzo Holden sat on the sidelines while Russ Freeman, Monty Budwig and Frankie Capp performed an original by Russ Freeman entitled Olden Times.
Clarence “Big” Miller (vocal), Russ Freeman (piano), Lorenzo Holden (tenor sax), Monty Budwig (bass), Frankie Capp (drums).
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: Leonard Feather
Title Films: Grant Velie
Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny