Tributes To Carline Ray; Earl McIntyre

seems that the more jazz people we celebrate in life, or otherwise, the larger the fête to the point, as i have said before, each time becomes an event.


not enough has been written about bassist, guitarist, pianist, vocalist CARLINE RAY who passed in July 2013.  [you may find the OctoJAZZarians© interview i did for by Google-ing arnold jay smith/Carline Ray.]  the memorial held to honor this multi-talented performer and mentor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church was beautifully organized by her daughter, vocalist Catherine “Cat” Russell.  in addition to musical highlights of her life Carline’s ashes were inurned in a wall in the Church.  i never knew such a place even existed; the Inurnment was simultaneously solemn and joyous, befitting the personage involved.

Carline brooked no nonsense from the people with whom she came in contact, as the film clips demonstrated.  ”If you don’t like what you see, that’s your problem,” she announced with an assured winked smirk.  she came up when women were reluctantly accepted into the male-dominated jazz world, if at all.   she joined an all-female band called The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm.  her marriage to bandleader Luis Russell produced one historical vocalist, Cat.  Cat produced her mom’s last, and only, vocal CD.

after Amina Claudine Myers who was playing a processional at the organ as we entered, Cat welcomed us with prayers at the Baptismal Font with no fewer than two Pastors, another unusual moment at these memorials.  seems Carline was more observant than many of us realized.

then Cat swung us into some serious history: Ida Cox’s “You’ve Got To Swing and Sway,” and Tommy Dorsey/Sy Oliver’s chart on “On The Sunny Side of The Street” with vocal trio.  staying in the big band mode while remaining reverential pianist Yuka Aikawa and her trio performed Thad Jones’s “A Child Is Born.”  that tune has now become a Christmas fave as well as a meditative musical moment not unlike Ellington’s “Come Sunday.”

some other highlights: Howard Johnson’s a cappella tuba; Carline’s alumna group Jazzberry Jam with Bertha Hope, piano, Paula Hampton, drums and Kim Clarke on bass, replacing Carline; the vocalist, Sandra Reeves-Phillips rang the rafters with a trio of Gospel tunes concluding with “Saints.” ; Mickey Davidson choreographed Cal Massey’s “Assunta,” and more.  co-presiding was Pastor emeritus Dale R. Lind to tie it all together.


speaking of “Come Sunday” the tune was part of a jubilant celebration of the 60th Birthday of trombonist, arranger EARL McINTYRE at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAM Café.  on hand were no fewer than three –count ‘em-three– bands and an SRO audience packed with friends and relatives.  and he’s got a large family.  i sat with an honorary family member, Arturo O’Farrill and his fam.

after host David Amram intro’d Earl the first band hit: Jim Seely, trumpet; Vincent Chancy, french horn; Sam Burtis, trombone; Warren Smith, vibes; Buddy Williams, another honorary McIntyre family member, drums.  at the next table sat Nat Adderley, Jr. who has worked with the McIntyre-Manning Band for decades and was on Manning’s first two CDs.  vocalist Renée Manning is Earl’s wife.  that set included the aforementioned “Come Sunday” and a dedication for the oft-asked question of trombonist J.J. Johnson, “Whology.”  it was immediately apparent that these cats came to play especially hard for their friend.

but it was the second set which tore the joint apart.  the opener was the gut-bucket “Evil Gal Blues.”  with each verse Renée wailed don’t you mess wid me ’cause i’m gonna tear you a new one, or words to that effect.  it was written for Dinah Washington by Leonard Feather.  but not this way.  Manning was joined by the stellar frontline of Jimmy Heath, tenor sax; Jimmy Owens, flugelhorn; Earl on bass trombone.  the rhythm section was Onaje Allan Gumbs, piano; T.S. Monk, drums; Ron Jackson, guitar; and Trifon Zinitrovo, bass.  the set concluded with mellifluous Heath and Owens on “The Nearness of You,” and “On Green Dolphin St.”

after a brief intermission not long enough to catch our breaths Amram on french horn and flutes; Patience Higgins, tenor sax; Roger Lent and Seely, trumpets; Earl; O’Farrill, piano; Alex Blake, electric bass guitar; Jerome Harris, guitar; Victor See Yuen, percussion and Williams’ drums blew out the doors with a screaming McIntyre-arranged bossa version of “As Time Goes By.”  hmm.  i wonder what Dooley Wilson and Bogie would have thought about that.  Manning, who coaches vocalists, added two to the mix.

as if that weren’t enough she threw some more blues at us, “You’re Hot and I Lke It A Lot,” and “All I Have To Give.”  they closed with Taj Mahal’s “Sweet Mama Janisse,” reworked by Manning as “Sweet Papa Earl.”  McIntyre was Taj’s arranger for many years as well as Lester Bowie’s.  he was Thad Jones & Mel Lewis’ stalwart section ‘boneman. as well as appearing as a studio first call.

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© arnold jay smith December 2013

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