Today In Jazz

Happy Birthday John Carisi!

February 23

Trumpeter/composer John Carisi is born in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, in 1922. Carisi is best-known for having penned the minor blues composition “Israel,” which was recorded by a Miles Davis-led nonet in sessions that later became known as the Birth of the Cool. His other important composition was “Springsville,” also recorded by Davis and Gil Evans for the LP Miles Ahead. Carisi’s prior resume included time with some of the more forward-leaning white big bands, such as Claude Thornhill (along with Evans) and Charlie Barnet, as well as Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band. Carisi was a frequent participant in the experimental jam sessions at Minton’s and Monroe’s Uptown House, from which sprung many of the musicians and ideas that helped launch the new music that came to be known as bebop. Carisi also studied trumpet, theory and composition with German composer Stefan Wolpe, who wrote atonal pieces as well as simple folk songs, for two different audiences. Wolpe may have served as a model for Carisi, who alternated between jazz writing, such as the arrangements for trombonist Urbie Green’s LP Big and Beautiful Band, and composing chamber works in the Western classical style. Carisi worked in television and theater in the 1950s and 1960s, arranging the score for the Ralph Blaine-Anita Loos musical Something About Anne. Carisi continued to write–often by commission–for Gerry Mulligan, the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center while also teaching at the Manhattan School of Music, among other schools. In the 1970s, he played in a Dixieland-style band at Jimmy Ryan’s club in New York City and–believe it or not–for a similar ensemble that played between innings at Yankee Stadium (those were lean years for the Yanks) while also writing arrangements for such groups as Max Roach’s Double Quartet. He died in 1992. Listen to “Springsville” from Miles Ahead here:

Clarinetist Pee Wee Russell and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins record the LP Jazz Reunion in 1961. They are abetted by trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, trumpeter Emmett Berry, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Jo Jones. Listen to the track, “If I Could Be With You,” (which reprised an influential recording the duo made with the Mound City Blue Blowers in 1929) here:

Oliver Nelson records the LP The Blues and the Abstract Truth in that same year of 1961, with multi-reed player Eric Dolphy, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and pianist Bill Evans. Listen to a track–perhaps the track–from this genuine classic, “Stolen Moments,” here: