This And That

Ben Tucker, RIP

Ben TuckerThere has been a civic outpouring of affection for bassist Ben Tucker, who died on June 4 in his adopted hometown, Savannah, Georgia. Tucker was killed when a car smashed into his golf cart. He was 82. He moved to Georgia four decades ago after establishing himself as a valuable sideman in Los Angeles, then New York. Tucker worked with pianists Carl Perkins, Billy Taylor and Marian McPartland, among many other leading jazz artists. He is on record with Bob Dorough, Herbie Mann, Grant Green, Lou Donaldson, Gil Evans, Art Pepper and Kenny Dorham, to name a few of his colleagues. This article in the online edition of the Athens, Georgia, Banner-Herald recalls his involvement in the life of Savannah and includes a video of the public viewing that preceded his funeral.

Brubecks Abroad

In the aftermath of their father’sDarius, Chris, Dan Brubeck memorial service, Dave Brubeck’s sons are maintaining the family tradition of extensive travel and performance. Darius, Chris, Dan (pictured, l to r) and guest saxophonist Dan O’Higgins are touring the British Isles, headed toward several nights at Ronnie Scott’s club in London, with many stops along the way. So far, they’ve been in Devon, Kent, Suffolk, Pembrokeshire and the jazz hotbed of Chipping Norton. For the full schedule, see Darius’s website.


Blogging at Rifftides is slightly in arrears while I work on a Zoot Sims project whose nature will be disclosed in due time. Meanwhile, in anticipation of the official change of season in the northern hemisphere—less than a week away—here are Zoot and four of his closest friends.

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  1. says

    RE: “Zooting” & Summertime —

    As much as I love Zoot’s playing, I do not appreciate the mastering of this recording. Everything is so loud. Sometimes, Zoot’s lines get lost in all those prominently recorded snare accents. The bass, the piano, the drums are mostly on the same acoustic level. Grady Tate is more interrupting the musical flow instead of supporting it.

    I can’t help it, but this kind of “power play” isn’t my cup of tea. Well, particularly the 1970’s were hard times for jazz musicians anyway. Remember? Disco, disco & more disco sounds all over the radio those days.

    OK, at the end it’s a matter of taste. I’ve seen a nice, fairly priced copy of the original LP. Maybe it sounds different?

    P.S. — The tom-tom has a definite pitch too: Its natural B doesn’t quite mix with the key of C-minor.;)

    • David says

      I was intrigued by Brew’s comments, so I pulled out the CD and listened to it on my very flat vintage BA100 speakers. I note that the original ‘75 recording was on DAT and was remastered in 1990. To my elderly ears it sounds okay, though I’d agree that a warmer sound would better compliment Zoot. The toms aren’t prominent except at the beginning where two toms are clearly tuned to octave Cs. Incidentally, for a great example of the value of carefully tuned toms, check out tracks 1 & 6 on the Collette-Hamilton album Tanganyika.

      • says

        David —

        Thanks, and yes, it’s the typical Pablo-1970’s (jazz) sound; but I complained about the balance between the particular instruments.

        How come that you hear a C? I checked, and I double-checked, like the mad professor with a tuning fork, and I still can hear a natural B in the higher tom.

        Anyway, here’s a brilliant example for a 1970’s quartet sound I really dig:

        Zoot & some other friends (1974).

        • David says

          Brew – Yeah, Zoot & Bucky! If I had a copy of Bill Crow’s memoir at hand, I’d quote his lovely account of listening to them jam all night at Zoot’s house. You can get an idea of what he was talking about on a live duo album called “Elegaic.” It’s taken from a cassette recording, but the sound is decent.

          I agree that the balance could be better on “Gershwin Brothers” but I’ve heard worse – even from Van Gelder. Was recently listening Doug Watkins’ “Soulnik” recorded at Englewood Cliffs in 1960. Cello panned hard left; flute and drums hard right (with some bleed into left channel); piano almost completely buried but brought up for solos. Still hearing 8va Cs in those toms. Who knows? Love the way Mraz moves to that F# in m.5 underneath Zoot’s F natural.

  2. Kenny Harris says

    Was sorry to hear about Ben Tucker’s passing. In the late 1950’s I was on a record date with him and Gene Harris on Jubilee Records (Genie In My Soul). A television commercial (for a product that I can’t remember) has been running in the UK and is using Ben’s tune “Comin’ Home Baby.”

  3. Valerie Bishop says

    I am looking forward to hearing the Brubeck Brothers in concert tomorrow at the Playboy Jazz Festival in L.A. I know that it will be a loving and poignant performance in memory of their amazing Dad. I had the luxury of seeing Dave Brubeck perform for over 50 years. And it was always a pleasure to observe this amazing family supporting each other. And what a gorgeous, classy, devoted wife Iola was. Just an inspirational family.