Delaware Today magazine 302 First: Delebrity Musicology with jazz man Harry Spencer, the musical director of Nomad Bar in Wilmington
Harry Spencer, professional jazz musician, teacher and musical director of Nomad Bar in Wilmington
I grew up just a block from the birthplace of modern Jazz—Minton’s Playhouse (in Harlem, New York City). Here I would stand outside and listen to jazz greats because I was too young to go inside.
I can only give my perspective on the jazz recordings that me and many of my contemporaries were influenced by. This is, of course, from a musician’s point of view as opposed to a layman. It is a viewing that is art-form based.
Most musicians will agree that these records were very important to their own development.
I took ear training and improvisation from the late, great Lennie Tristano. He had us listen to the old Count Basie recordings with Lester Young. He had us sing Lester’s solos note for note (Basie with Lester Young, Epic)
Later came the Dial label. These records contained Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and many of the greats playing bebop. “Ko Ko,” “Parker’s Mood,” and “Now’s the Time,” are included in these recordings.
Later on was Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” album and his Columbia and Prestige recordings. And then John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”
Another influence was Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” Also, Thelonious Monk’s collection on Riverside and Columbia.
I was really impressed with “Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street.”