Photo: Cal Massey |
The next show will air on Sunday, October 5, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of Suga’ will feature a discussion with musician, composer and educator Salim Washington on the work of the legendary trumpeter, composer and arranger Cal Massey. You can hear a short preview below.
Calvin “Cal” Massey (January 11, 1928 – October 25, 1972) is virtually unknown with the exception of both highly knowledgeable “jazz” scholars and a small coterie of illustrious musicians who remain alive and were immensely indebted to Massey’s musical influence and mentorship.
Massey studied trumpet under Freddie Webster, and following this played in the big bands of Jay McShann, Jimmy Heath, and Billie Holiday. In the late 1950s he led an ensemble with Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner, and Tootie Heath; John Coltrane and Donald Byrd occasionally played with them. In the 1950s he gradually receded from active performance and concentrated on composition; his works were recorded by Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan, Philly Joe Jones, and Archie Shepp. Massey played with Shepp from 1969 until 1972.
The most comprehensive article on Cal Massey was written by the late Fred Ho. Ho is also responsible for the only recording of Massey’s 1970s nine-part “Black Liberation Suite,” which was revisited in 1986 with new arrangements by one of Massey’s close collaborators Romulus Franceschini, Massey also performed in The Romas Orchestra with Franceschini.
Massey’s last composition was Lady Day: A Musical Tragedy. Massey was a father figure and close friend to many of the greatest “jazz” musicians of the post-World War era until his early death in 1972.
Salim Washington is co-author of Clawing at the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever and continues to be a committed teacher, writer, speaker and performer in numerous solo, group and ensemble projects. He is also touring with the Eco-Music Big Band, a jazz ensemble mixing the music of Fred Ho and Cal Massey with political aspects. When he first met Fred Ho at Harvard in 1976, the two instantly became good friends, political comrades and musical collaborators. The two crossed paths again in 2000 when Fred reached out and asked Salim to join his Afro-Asian Music Ensemble. The pair would go on working together, playing and giving lectures as a scientific duo in numerous events. In 2012, they started the Scientific Soul Sessions, a collective for revolutionaries to build a soulful and scientific community. The Eco-Music Big Band is one of the many progenies from this effort of using art to inform politics and vice versa.
Show engineered, produced, hosted, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Read Brooklyn College Professor Jeff Taylor‘s article “Brooklyn Rediscovers Cal Massey” in the spring 2010 American Music Review for more background on Cal Massey: PDF
Watch the late Fred Ho conduct a 2012 live performance of Massey’s “The Black Liberation Suite, Part One” at Harlem’s Red Rooster club with show guest Salim Washington on saxophone.