Newman, Crawford and Cooper Remembered

Ritz.jpgIn today’s Los Angeles Times, David Ritz writes from a personal standpoint about the nearly simultaneous loss of three important musicians. Ritz is the author or co-author of several books about blues and soul artists including Ray Charles. The headline on his op-ed piece is “Ray Charles’ Heavenly Trio.” Here’s the first paragraph:

In summer 1957, I was a teenager who had just moved to Texas from the East Coast. One Sunday afternoon, I happened to walk into a large social hall in South Dallas where a jam session was underway. On the bandstand were three saxophonists: Leroy “Hog” Cooper on baritone, David “Fathead” Newman on tenor and Hank Crawford on alto.

To read the whole thing, go here. For the Rifftides remembrance of Newman, and a performance video, go here.

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Comments

  1. Jon Foley says

    I wonder if David Ritz is referring to the American Woodmen’s Hall in Dallas? In 1960, only three years later, I was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas and made 2 or 3 trips to Dallas to hear what was essentially Ray Charles’ band, without Ray, at that hall. I definitely remember Hog Cooper being there, and Marcus Belgrave was on trumpet (a year later, I got to discuss those gigs with Marcus when he was playing at Shelly’s Manne-Hole in LA).
    That Dallas band was outstanding; at one Sunday afternoon concert, I had to literally be dragged out of the hall by my friends because the music was too good to leave. I was willing to turn up AWOL to hear the end of the concert; they weren’t . Maybe they were right. Maybe.
    (David Ritz: if you read this, confirm for me whether we’re talking about the same place).

  2. says

    Jon, it is the same place where Hog, Fathead, James Clay and many others played for years. In the fifties, even Ornette showed up on several occasions. It was a beautiful scene.

  3. Jon Foley says

    Aha – so it was the same place. I thought as much. You would have loved it there.
    A little sidebar to this story:
    The first time I went there, although I had been informed about it (or as we used to say, “hipped to it”) by some of my black friends in my Army unit, I went with another white, jazz-loving friend of mine because the other guys didn’t know whether they’d be going or not. Neither of us had ever been to Dallas, but our black friends gave us directions and said they might meet us there. So my buddy and I took a bus to the place (the white bus driver definitely gave us an odd look when we told him where we wanted to get off) and when we got there, we found the place was not open yet because the concert didn’t start for a long while. We decided to sit there on the steps and wait for it to open. So here are two geeky-looking white guys (in Army uniforms) in the heart of a black neighborhood in Dallas, just sitting there (dont forget, this is 1960 in the still legally-segregated South). After a while, a car with two black men in it goes by us slowly, both men definitely checking us out. A couple of minutes later, the same car comes by again and stops in front of us (we’re thinking, Uh-oh, wrong place, wrong time). The driver says, “Are you guys here for the concert?” Yes, we said. “Well, it doesn’t start for a couple of hours,” he said, “I’ve got a bar around the corner; why don’t you come with us and wait for it to start?” Why not, we said, and off we went. His place turned out to be one of the nicest, friendliest bars I’ve ever been in, with the hippest jukebox I’ve ever seen. We were bought drinks, treated like long-lost friends, and had a great time. Eventually, the Army buddies who had told us about the concert showed up at the bar (amazed to see us there, I must say) and we all went to see the Ray Charles band (unfortunately, without Ray).
    One of my most pleasant musical – and social – memories.