Recent Recordings by Area Musicians
tenorist Charlie Gabriel has made a major contribution to recorded
Detroit jazz history by releasing a CD with the late great drummer J.C.
Heard, one of the most prominent jazzmen to come out of Detroit in the
late 1930s. J.C. Heard featuring Charlie Gabriel and Friends
[Gabriel Historic Music Society] spotlights three of Heard's mid-1980s
quartets and also showcases pianist Earl Van Riper in a trio setting.
Heard earned his band-leading spurs during his years
fronting the mid-1940s Café Society Downtown house band, and
it was a skill that he retained the rest of his life. Regardless of
size, his bands were always well groomed and stocked with talented players.
Heard championed younger players like bassist Don
Mayberry and pianist Todd Carlon, and used his peers (in this case,
Gabriel and Van Riper) to anchor his group. Mayberry was a favorite
of his. Heard preferred bassists who played low, meaty, resonant notes
and tones, and Mayberry is a foundation player who learned much from
Heard. Hear him on "So What." It's no coincidence that he
was also a member of Van Riper's trio for many years.
Gabriel worked with Heard for some time and contributed
several catchy melodies to the band's book. On this CD we can hear "The
Eye Of Love," "Miranda" and "I'm Free." "The
Eye Of Love," first recorded in 1980 as a bossa nova, is wonderful;
the classy lyrics hark back to the 1930s, and Heard, who liked to sing
as well as drum, acquits himself well. For straight-ahead swingin',
Gabriel has few equals; check out "Whisper Not" and "Blues
In Hoss's Flat" (mis-titled "House Flat"). His sound
is a pleasure to hear.
The three numbers with Van Riper are wonderful.
A raconteur as well as pianist, he was a gracious gentleman with a ready
smile, a story and beautiful music in his soul. He had the finesse of
Tatum and his solos were models of clarity.
I highly recommend this CD. It is available from
Charlie Gabriel, 5168 Tuxedo, Detroit 48204, for $20 postpaid anywhere
in the U.S.