Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Curtis Amy's First Record

Saxophonist Curtis Amy (1929-2002) was born in Houston; in his thirties he moved to Los Angeles, where he because a busy and well-respected figure, recording some fine albums for Pacific Jazz, Verve, and other labels. His main source of income, though was the LA studio scene, where his talent and versatility kept him busy playing and arranging - for Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, The Doors, etc. As a teenager, I heard him on the radio frequently, since he played on Carole King's "It's Too Late," which was all over the airwaves at the time. I admired the tasteful, expressive soprano sax solo without knowing who it was until several years later.

Young Curtis Amy made his first record when he was still in Houston, around 1948 or so, for the Gold Star label. Bill Quinn's record label, based in Houston, specialized in blues, Cajun, and country sides. Amy's record fit the billl; the tunes are jump blues rather than straight-ahead jazz. The band is rather rough-hewn; guitarist Joyce McQuarn's is pretty out of tune, and the vocalist, Hubert Robinson, has a loose grasp of time. But I find the rawness appealing, and there are good tenor sax solos on both sides. There is another tenor saxophonist in the band, and I first thought that the saxophone solo on side A, "Realization Blues," was not the same player as the soloist on "Sleeping Blues," the flip. I have since changed my mind - I think it's Curtis Amy on both sides - but I've put the two solos back to back in one sound file so folks can listen and make up their own minds.

My copy shows the signs of being a former jukebox record - one side is in pretty good condition, while the other is much more worn. In this case, "Sleeping Blues" was the more popular side in whatever jukebox this record used to reside. But this is a scarce record, and I'm glad to have this copy of it.

Realization Blues

Sleeping Blues

Saxophone solos back to back

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