Vancouver Jazz

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Monk in Victoria

Posted on | May 24, 2010 | 7 Comments

by Nou Dadoun

Last year in a Vancouver Jazz Forum discussion of great Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, Guy MacPherson was kind enough to provide a scan of a rare JATP programme from a concert in Victoria attended by Guy’s father Fraser MacPherson and said to be at the Armory:

This program revealed the surprising fact that Thelonious Monk had visited Victoria in the company of Coleman Hawkins, with whom he had recorded, although the date of the Victoria appearance in that discussion was still in question.
Thanks to the recent Monk biography by Robin D. G. Kelley (Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of An American Orginal), we can now pinpoint that date pretty closely. On page 107, it states that “Norman Granz invited Hawk back to California, this time for a three-week national tour that would open in Los Angeles on November 26 [1945] and terminate in Victoria, British Columbia“. This puts the Victoria date within a couple of days of December 16th, 1945, a little over a year after Monk and Hawkins recorded  together for the Joe Davis label on October 19th, 1944.
The book has some great stories about the tour including the fact that Monk missed his train in Portland and had to fly to Seattle to join the band. Subsequently, “Monk made it to Victoria but the concert was a complete bust.

The book goes into significant detail about Monk’s performances and tours (including the sole time I saw Monk at the Colonial Tavern in Toronto with Pat Patrick in 1970) but doesn’t mention any subsequent visits to Victoria or Vancouver.  Did he ever return to B.C.?


7 Responses to “Monk in Victoria”

  1. Gavin Walker
    May 24th, 2010 @ 1:17 am

    To the best of my knowledge, Monk never performed in B.C. with the above exception. One interesting signature on the program is that of Tom Archia. He’s not listed on the program but he was a great tenor player from Chicago who influenced everyone from Johnny Griffin to Gene Ammons to Von Freeman. There is very little documentation of Archia on records but there is one with a tenor battle with Ammons recorded in 1950 and Archia more than holds his own.

  2. Nou Dadoun
    May 24th, 2010 @ 1:34 am

    That’s an interesting followup, according to the Archia discography ( Archia was based on the West Coast in the mid-40s and in fact recorded with Helen Humes the week after this Victoria JATP concert.
    Interestingly, there’s also this:
    “Richie Dell Archia said that Tom Archia also participated in some of the early Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts. During Tom’s stay in LA, “Norman Granz used to call me, looking for him.” We don’t know whether Tom Archia appeared at any JATP events while he lived in California; there is no confirmation of his doing so, though he did make it to a JATP event in Detroit in 1947. At least we have the Helen Humes session. ”

    This certainly looks like confirmation; maybe he subbed for Lucky Thompson (?) … N

  3. Gavin Walker
    May 24th, 2010 @ 1:54 am

    The Archia battle with Ammons was actually done in Chicago in Oct. 1948 and called “Jam For Boppers” on Chess. There are recordings he was on in L.A. in Aug. 1945 with Illinois Jacquet and his band with Charles Mingus on bass plus a Helen Humes date in Nov. 1945. In 1946 and 47 he was located in Cincinnati working with blues bands like Wynonie Harris, Big Maybelle and Lonnie Johnson.

  4. Jesse Cahill
    May 24th, 2010 @ 1:57 am

    Wow what an amazing poster! People used to always talk about Dexter playing at Pags but I had never heard about this concert!

    I love that it’s five sets too. I wonder how long the sets were?


  5. Gavin Walker
    May 24th, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

    Nou….thanks for the Archia link. Great research on this obscure artist. Just read it all this morning. Talk about detail! It explains the “Tom” quotes in is signature. So much to absorb and learn…..the beat goes on…

  6. Nou Dadoun
    May 24th, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

    Just another comment about this (endlessly fascinating) one. Through almost 65 years of jazz history, it’s easy to forget that in 1945 Monk would have been completely unknown in Victoria; his only available recordings were 4 tunes from the aforementioned 1944 date as a sideman with Coleman Hawkins. Although Monk had been recorded with the likes of Charlie Christian, Joe Guy and (coincidentally) Helen Humes at Minton’s, those recordings wouldn’t be released until much later and even the first Monk Blue Note recordings were a couple of years in the future. If at all, Monk was probably best known for writing Cootie Williams’ theme song Round Midnight which featured Monk’s friend Bud Powell on piano.

    The star power of the show would have been Coleman Hawkins (known for Body and Soul), Roy “Little Jazz” Eldridge (known for Let Me Off Uptown with Gene Krupa’s band), Slim Gaillard and Bam Brown (Slim & Slam [Stewart] had a hit with Flat Foot Floogie) and Meade Lux Lewis.

    I assume that Coleman Hawkins’ tenor saxophone would have been the draw for a 17 year old Fraser MacPherson to the extent that he kept the program to hand down to his children! (And for us to marvel at!) … N

  7. Robert Campbell
    May 27th, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

    Confirmation, at last, that Norman Granz, who used Tom Archia on a Helen Humes date for Philo shortly before the start of this tour, did include Archia in at least one JATP concert in 1945.

    And this is just the second specimen of Tom Archia’s handwriting that I’ve seen.

    After Archia returned to Chicago in the spring of 1946, he joined Roy Eldridge’s big band for a spell…

    Robert Campbell

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