Monday, April 28, 2014

Billy Root on Roost

A scarce one today - the first recording by a fine modern jazz tenor saxophonist, Billy Root.  Root, who died last summer, was a Philadelphia-born (1934) saxophonist who played and recorded with Clifford Brown, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, and other jazz masters.  In 1968, faced with dwindling prospects in the jazz world, Root moved to Las Vegas, where he made a good living playing in big bands and accompanying singers.

Root was an accomplished saxophonist and an excellent improviser, as can be heard on this 1949 Roost 78 - his first recording as leader, and his only one until 1999, when he made an album with trumpeter Vinnie Tanno.  The Roost label (also known as Royal Roost) was at first associated with the New York jazz club of the same name, and later merged with Roulette.  There seems to be almost no information available about this obscure recording; Root blows stirringly over an accomplished three-piece rhythm section, but no discography I have seen lists their names.  In any case, my copy is in near-mint condition, so enjoy some rare 1949 jazz by Billy Root.

Edit, 8/25/14: Someone pointed out that if Billy Root was born in 1934, the fine playing here is unlikely to be the work of a 15-year-old. I should have caught that. The standard discographies list this record as from 1949, but based on the catalog number, late 1953 or early 1954 is more likely.

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