I wanted to compile her efforts and share them with others who perhaps didn’t get a chance to see these Facebook posts. My hope is that they will encourage others to explore, share and experience musicians they haven’t heard before or haven’t picked up in awhile. Enjoy and another big thanks to Elzy for all her work on this project!
August 1 · Today, Aug. 1, is the birthday of Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos. He and Howard were in the Gil Evans band together, but Howard recalls that Nana "didn't speak much English, so that limited conversation."
August 2 · Get ready to celebrate the birthday of saxophonist Greg Osby tomorrow, Aug. 3. Greg and Howard played together in Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, with John Purcell and Rufus Reid rounding out the personnel. Howard was in that band in a variety of configurations and remembers the edition with Greg as his favorite.
August 3 ·Aug. 3, marks the anniversary of the birth of tuba player Ray Draper. During one of our interviews, Howard Johnson reminisced about Ray, of whom he first became aware in the late 1950s:
"Initially, I wasn't very inspired by Ray because he was not really technically proficient at that time. As I got to be a more sophisticated listener, I realized Draper was a tremendously soulful cat who just wasn't that creative an instrumentalist. He was 16, 17, just a year older than me. So after I got over my initial mistrust of all the lack of technique, and also my envy -- he was doing exactly the gigs I wanted to be doing -- then I thought I'd like to seek him out and help him get his chops up to speed. Because he had soul pouring out of every part of him. I developed an appreciation for Ray after about 1962, which I just couldn't have before that."
August 4 · Today is the birthday of Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson. Howard Johnson recalls playing with him on Swedish TV in 1970 with Gil Evans and George Russell.
August 5 · Tomorrow, Aug. 6, is the anniversary of the birth of Buddy Collette. Before hitting his teens, the L.A.-born saxophonist/flutist/clarinetist formed a band with Charles Mingus (whom he persuaded to switch from cello to bass) and Britt Woodman. Collette went on to collaborate with Dexter Gordon, Lucky Thompson, Jim Hall and Chico Hamilton, and to teach Eric Dolphy, Frank Morgan, Charles Lloyd and a host of others. When the reed-man worked to integrate the Los Angeles musicians union in the 1950s, Frank Sinatra was among his supporters. Buddy Collette is said to be the first African-American musician to perform on TV, in the studio band of Grouch Marx’s “You Bet Your Life.”
Howard admired Collette’s multiple-reed work from the 1950s, and has fond memories of doing a lot of studio sessions with him. Shortly before his death in 2010, Collette came to hear Howard play at the Hollywood Bowl. When Howard announced from the stage that it was Buddy's birthday, the cameras picked him up for the Jumbotron display, and the elder statesman got a nice round of applause from the audience. “A wonderful, wonderful man,” Howard says.
August 6 · Happy birthday to Victor Goines. Howard Johnson describes Victor as "an exceptional multi-reed player, like Buddy Collette." Howard and Victor played together for the first time in New Orleans around 1985 or '86, and again in 2013 with the JALC program.
Happy birthday to Joseph Daley. When I interviewed him earlier this year, Joe told me he almost gave up playing tuba in 1970, but reconsidered after Howard talked to him about going on the road with Taj Mahal.
As Howard tells it, in 1970 he started talking with Taj Mahal about backing the singer with his multi-tuba group, now known as Gravity. Though Taj was enthusiastic, Howard never really believed anything would come of it. After six months of occasional discussions, Howard told him the band would only need two weeks rehearsal, at most. Taj responded, "Well, then we better start rehearsing Jan. 1, because we open at Fillmore East Jan. 15."
Howard began calling his tuba-playing colleagues to check on their availability. He began working on Joe Daley, who had sat in with the multi-tuba band recently. When Howard approached him about going on the road with Taj, Joe declined: He was in his last year of school and was about to become the first member of his family to graduate college. Daley explained, "I thought I could play till I came and played with you guys. Now I realize I can't play at all!" He had already found a buyer for his tuba.
Fortunately, Daley had a change of heart when he found out that he'd be able to make up classes he missed while he was on the road. He accepted the offer and told Howard he'd also double on valve trombone for the Taj Mahal gigs.
The rest is history, as evidenced by "The Real Thing," Taj Mahal's recording with its bounty of brass.
August 7 · Just getting in under the wire to wish Howard a happy birthday on the actual day. Since February I've been doing daily posts mentioning people he's played with in his 53-year music career, including: James Williams, Kenny Washington, Herbie Lovelle, Robbie Robertson, Ted Curson, Mousey Alexander, Tony Oxley, Marcus Belgrave, Lee Morgan, Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton, Andrew Hill, Frank Strozier, Cindy Blackman Santana, Tony Williams, John Clark, David Grusin, Joey Baron, George Russell, Doc Cheatham, Hall & Oates, Charles McPherson, Dizzy Gillespie, Winard Harper, Ed Xiques, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Rufus Reid, Paeeroan akLaff, and the NDR Big Band.
August 8 · Happy belated b'day, Kim Narisetti! Hope it was your best ever! (I didn't know you shared a birth date with my ol' pal Howard Johnson!) A lot of talented people were born Aug. 7, including trumpeter Idrees Sulieman. Not only do he and Howard share a birth date, they also played together.
August 9 · Happy birthday to drummer/pianist/composer Jack DeJohnette. Listening to his band Special Edition at the Blue Note many years ago convinced me I needed to live in New York. That version of Special Edition included Howard Johnson, David Murray, John Purcell and Rufus Reid. What's not to like? Plus, the recording includes a gorgeous arrangement of "Monk's Mood" by Howard.
Let me also mention that yesterday, Aug. 8, was the birthday of trombonist Urbie Green, who's appeared on about a bazillion gigs and recordings, including "Lady in Satin." And, yes, Urbie and Howard have played together.
August 10 · Today marks the birthday of bassist/composer/arranger Chuck Israels, who's played with Bill Evans, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, and Howard Johnson.
August 11 · Yesterday, August 10, was the birthday of trumpeter/composer Michael Mantler. Howard Johnson recorded with him on the Jazz Composers' Orchestra album.
August 12 · Earlier this week was the birthday of multi-instrumentalist/composer/arranger Benny Carter. Another amazing multi-instrumentalist, Howard Johnson, played with him.
August 13 · Deep into the sixth month of daily posts in honor of Howard Johnson's 75th birthday celebration, and still plenty more names to come. Each day I cite someone Howard has played with during his 53 years in music, and today's choice is pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, aka Dollar Brand.
August 14 · Howard played with Hank Mobley on the classic album "A Slice of the Top."
August 15 · Howard Johnson played with pianist Cecil Taylor.
August 17 · Help Danny Mixon celebrate his birthday Friday, August 19. Danny, a Mingus band alumnus, has played with Howard Johnson, and has known him for a long time: "Howard has seen me grow up," Danny says. "I have the greatest respect for him and what he's done with the music."
Guitarist John Scofield is among the many greats Howard Johnson has played with.
August 18 · I've been wanting to mention for a while that Howard Johnson played with guitarist Hiram Bullock. Russell D. Vines and I heard them play "Voodoo Child" many times, much to our delight.
August 19 · Howard worked with drummer Beaver Harris, and played on his landmark album "From Ragtime to No Time."
August 20 · Howard played with guitarist George Benson, and appeared on the album "Benson Burner."
August 21 · Today, Aug. 21, is the birthday of pianist Carlton Holmes, a mainstay of Howard Johnson's multi-tuba band Gravity.
August 22 · Howard played with T.S. Monk, including on the brilliant release "Monk on Monk."
August 23 · Happy birthday to alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, born Aug. 22. Howard Johnson played with Bobby most recently at the University of Missouri in Kansas City; Howard says it's a "swinging' school."
That certainly wasn't the only time the two played together. Just one example: Back in the day Howard and Bobby both contributed to the Lou Rawls album "At Last." Guess name checking both Bobby Watson and Lou Rawls makes this post a Tuesday twofer.
August 24 · August 25th, tomorrow, is the birthday of guitarist Pat Martino. Pat and Howard Johnson were in Lloyd Price's band together in 1966.
August 25 · Today's the birthday of the legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter. He and Howard appear together on the T.S. Monk album "Monk On Monk."
August 26 · Lots of creative people born Aug. 25, including bassist Charles Fambrough. Howard Johnson took him on a quartet tour of Europe in 1975.
August 27 · Johnson worked with singer Maria Muldaur, including writing horn charts for her "Sweet Harmony" album, as well as playing tuba and bari on it.
August 28 · I met someone today who told me she listened to Taj Mahal's "The Real Thing" several times a day for years. I know the feeling!
August 29 · A half-century ago today, Aug. 29, the Beatles played their last U.S. concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Tickets cost $4.50 to $6.50, and the band played 11 songs ...
Which reminded me of a story Howard Johnson told me: Howard worked with John Lennon on his “Walls and Bridges” and “Double Fantasy” albums, and from the sound of it they would have enjoyed an extended, fruitful collaboration if Lennon’s time on Earth had been longer. While they were busy with “Double Fantasy,” Howard was also in rehearsals to go on the road with Paul Simon.
Lennon hadn’t toured in a long time, and had a lot of questions about what Simon would be doing. He was amazed to hear that a standard concert consisted of two one-hour sets. He said, “Really? We used to go out and do big stadiums and do one 40-minute set.”
Howard’s reply? “A 40-minute set? That shit went out with the Beatles!”
August 31 · Multi-instrumentalist George Braith is among the musicians Howard Johnson has played with in over a half century in music.
September 1 · Drummer Winard Harper is among the many greats Howard has worked with in his half-century-plus career in music.
September 2 · Today, September 2, marks the anniversary of the birth of saxophonist Clifford Jordan. He played with many of my faves, including Mingus, Mal Waldron, Randy Weston, and Howard Johnson.
September 3 · Saxophonist Mark Whitecage is among the musicians with whom Howard Johnson has shared a bandstand.
September 4 · Trumpeter Ted Daniel has played with Archie Shepp, Dewey Redman, Andrew Cyrille. Sam Rivers, Billy Bang, Henry Threadgill, and Howard Johnson.
September 5 · Pianist Burton Greene has played with folks like Rashied Ali, Sam Rivers, Albert Ayler, Byard Lancaster, Gato Barbieri and Howard Johnson
September 6 · Pianist Jasper van't Hof has shared a bandstand with the likes of Angelique Kidjo, Charlie Mariano, Don Alias, Archie Shepp, Alphonse Mouzon, and Howard Johnson.
September 7 · Buddy Catlett played a lot of instruments, but may be best known as a bassist. He worked with Louis Armstrong, Cal Tjader, Curtis Fuller, Freddie Hubbard, Coleman Hawkins, Junior Mance, Chico Hamilton, Johnny Griffin and Eddie Lockjaw Davis. Oh, and Howard Johnson.
September 8 · While we're on the subject of bassists...Clint Houston played with Stan Getz, Joanne Brackeen, George Cables, Nina Simone, Roy Haynes, Charles Tolliver, Woody Shaw, John Hicks, John Stubblefield, and Howard Johnson.
September 9 · Just when you think you know just about everything there is to know about the roster of people Howard has gigged with, you discover he played with Sammy Cahn. Who knew?
September 10 · Yesterday, September 9, marked the anniversary of the birth of the iconic drummer Elvin Jones. Howard Johnson played with Elvin in 1966, when he joined Gil Evans' band. Howard told me a fun story about Elvin recently, which I'm going to paraphrase since I can't put my hand on the notes I made that day:
Elvin was visiting a friend who was prepping for a dinner party. She was upset because she had planned to make a special sauce--a version of home-made mayonnaise, if I recall--and she had broken the whisk she used for that task. Elvin asked her some questions about the procedure, then asked her to bring him a bowl, a fork, and the ingredients.
He sat in her kitchen hand-beating the ingredients together with a fork, keeping perfect time--of course!--for as long as it took for the delicate sauce to thicken to perfection.
September 11 · E.j. Decker, who produced the annual September Concert: The Heart of Jazz for 9/11, shared some memories a while back of Howard Johnson's participation in the event:
"It was 2011's 10th anniversary of the attacks when Howard joined the Sept. Concert: Heart of Jazz. He played in a combo that included Roseanna Vitro, Roni Ben-Hur and Harvie S Not-Harvey, in an 8-hour program that day that housed 50 musicians. Was a very long, but swinging, day. I remember Howard was a bit reticent at first that day (that new-kid-in-school feeling as this was our 7th edition), but once up there, he fit right in & blew it up!"
Thanks for the memories, E.j., and thanks for all your efforts in bringing people together.
September 12 · Happy belated birthday to saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins. In case you're wondering, Howard jammed with him back in the day.
September 13 · Pianist David Virelles has shared a stage, bandstand, or recording studio with Henry Threadgill, Jane Bunnett, Chris Potter, Mark Turner, Andrew Cyrille, and Howard Johnson.
September 14 · Howard and trumpeter Larry Cramer have played together many times, and I suspect they'll do it again on Sept. 16.
September 15 · Saxophonist Dewey Redman played with Ed Blackwell, Cameron Brown, Jane Bunnett, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny, Randy Weston, Roswell Rudd, Matthew Wilson and a host of others, including Howard Johnson.
September 16 · Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Johnny Sansone has played with John Lee Hooker, Jimmie Rodgers, Robert Lockwood, Ronnie Earl, Jane Bunnett, Howard Johnson and many others.
September 17 · Howard played with Gabor Szabo on the "Light My Fire" album.
September 18 · Johnson has played with guitarist Happy Traum at "the odd jam in Woodstock and at Winter Solstice concerts. He's such a great guy and a great father."
September 19 · Howard paid tribute to Don Pullen with Jane Bunnett's band on Friday, with bassist Kieran Overs, trumpeter Larry Cramer, pianist David Virelles, and drummer J.T. Lewis. Sounds like a good time was had by all!
September 20 · Baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne played with Illinois Jacquet, Tadd Dameron, Roy Eldridge, J.J. Johnson, Randy Weston, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, James Moody, and many others, including Howard Johnson.
September 21 · Bari saxophonist Nick Brignola played with Gerry Mulligan, Pepper Adams, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Derek Smith, Ted Curson, Randy Brecker, Lee Morgan, and lots of others, including Howard Johnson.
September 22 · While we're on the subject of baritone sax players, Howard Johnson has played with Gary Smulyan, including at a milestone birthday celebration for Gary not too long ago.
September 23 · Ronnie Cuber has played bari sax with a host of greats, including George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, Lee Konitz, the Eagles, Horace Silver, Slide Hampton, Mario Bauza, and Howard Johnson.
September 24 ·Howard Johnson has played with saxophonist Paul Winter many times over the years.
September 25 · Happy birthday to saxophonist Craig Handy. He and Howard shared the stage and recording studio as part of the Charles Tolliver Big Band.
September 26 · Happy birthday to saxophonist Gary Bartz. He and Howard Johnson played the "Influences: Billy Strayhorn" concert at Weill Auditorium at Carnegie Hall a while back.
September 27 · Happy b'day to drummer Matthew Wilson. He and Howard Johnson are part of the Large Ensemble on Marty Ehrlich's "A Trumpet in the Morning" album.
September 28 · September 28 marks the birthdate of the bassist Sirone. I never think of him without recalling hearing him with Phalanx (George Adams, James Blood Ulmer, Rashied Ali), what a great night of music. Howard and Sirone appear together on Pharoah Sanders' album "Izipho Zam."
September 29 · Still catching up with the very talented people born Sept. 25 who have a musical history with Howard Johnson. Sam Rivers, for example. He's been mentioned here before, as part of the Howard Johnson 75th birthday year recognition posts. But this is the first time we're getting around to organist Barbara Dennerlein. Howard appears on her album "Junkanoo."
September 30 · A couple of weeks back, Diane Moser filled me in on some details about the upcoming Soup and Sound gig with Howard Johnson, Andrew Druryand Ken Filiano.
Diane said: "I was just talking to Howard about the music for our Oct. 1 Soup and Sound gig, and he wants to do some music by the pianist LaMont Johnson. Howard is on an album of his:” http://www.allmusic.com/album/242-e-3rd-mw0000044742
“I was researching LaMont while talking to Howard, and I saw that LaMont's date of birth was—guess what—Oct 1st, the day of our gig. Howard fell out laughin', he had no idea. So I said, ‘Well that's perfect, we have to do his music now’ "
Besides LaMont Johnson's “My Lonely Year” and “The Fire This Time,” the set list is likely to include Howard’s originals “Arrival” and “Little Black Lucille,” and a few of Erica Lindsey's tunes: “Walking Together,” “Varachka” and “First Movement.”