01 Oct 1995
Inspired by the Orioles and other vocal groups, the Clovers came together as a trio at Washington’s Armstrong High School in 1946. Baritone Harold Lucas, lead John ‘Buddy’ Bailey, and second tenor Matthew McQuater, were joined by bass Harold Winley and guitarist Bill Harris. The son of a Washington diplomat, Ahmet Ertegun, who started Atlantic Records, caught the Clovers performing at the original Waxie Maxies at 7th and T, N.W. He signed the group, and the B-side of their first single reached # 1 on the R&B; charts in 1951. Among 20 hits that followed were “Love Potion Number 9,” “Fool, Fool, Fool,” “One Mint Julep,” “Middle of the Night,” “Hey, Miss Fannie,” “Good Lovin,” “Your Cash Ain’t Nothing But Trash,” “Blue Velvet,” and “Devil Or Angel.”
In the late 1940s, the Orioles emerged out of Baltimore to become one of R8B and Doo Wop’s defining groups. At first, lead singer Earlington ‘Sonny Til’ Tilghman, second lead George Nelson, tenor Alexander Sharp, bass Johnny Reed, and Tommy Gaither were known as the Vibranaires. Like the Orioles, they became regulars on Arthur Godfrey’s talent show and, in August 1948, released “Barbara Lee” as their first single. The B-side, “It’s Too Soon To Know,” hit the R&B; Top 10 that year. In 1954, Somy merged the Orioles with the Regals becoming the New Orioles featuring Al “Diz” Russell who has remained with the group to this day and until recently Gerald Holman. Other Top 10 hits included ‘What Are You Doing New Years?” “Forgive and Forget,” and “Baby Please Don’t Go.” When Gregory Carol replaced Nelson, his debut “Crying In The Chapel” went to number one on the R&B; charts (later covered by Elvis Presley) and # 1 on the pop charts, one of the first crossover R&B; tunes. In 1995, the Orioles were inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Washington guitar legend Danny Gatton was revered worldwide for the dazzling virtuosity of his playing and the diversity of his styles. His sudden death in 1994 silenced at 49 the man the Washington Post called “The Greatest Guitar Player You’ve Never Heard” and Guitar Player called “The World’s Greatest Unknown Guitarist.” From the bands, Fat Boys to Funhouse, Gatton traveled from Nashville to L.A., but always returned to his Charles County farmhouse. He left behind friends and family, including wife Jan and daughter Holly. His musical legacy was captured on records released by his mother Norma, including “Redneck Jazz” and “Unfinished Business,” and on two Elektra releases, “88 Elmira Street,” which was named after his boyhood Anacostia home (his major-label debut at 45) and “Cruisin’ Deuces.” There is also “Blazing Telecasters” with Tom Principato, an instructional video “Hot Licks,” and the Fender customized Danny Gatton Signature Guitar modeled after his ’53 Telecaster – although Gatton traded the original for a 1934 Ford he. Gatton was recognized in Guitar Player’s 1993-94 reader’s polls; Rolling Stone’s 1989 “Hot Guitarist;” and with 19 Wammies during his lifetime.
One of the greatest tenor jazz saxophonists of the past thirty years, Stanley Turrentine is a four-time Grammy nominee, who has been praised by JazzTimes for his “truly passionate artistry.” Stanley got his first taste of the road while still in his teens, touring with Lowell Fulson’s R&B;/blues band and its pianist/music director Ray Charles. He made his first records with Max Roach after his apprenticeship with Fulson. Stanley was enlisted by the Earl Bostic Big Band, filling John Coltrane’s tenor seat at Coltrane’s recommendation. Stanley recently expressed his appreciation by recording Coltrane’s signature song, “Impressions.” Turrentine’s own recordings began on Blue Note in 1960 and he was also a part of key Jimmy Smith albums. He is equally at home in a commercial setting or with straight ahead jazz accompaniment. Turrentine is an original, one-of-a-kind. He does not fit neatly into ordinary jazz categories. What makes Turrentine great is his deep love of the roots of jazz — blues. He likes to play funky music. If you like the bluesy side of jazz, a big sax sound, and dynamic music, you will love Stanley Turrentine. Still one of the true saxophone stars of today, four decades later.
Content courtesy of Washington Area Music Association.
Featured image photo credit: Clayton Call / Redferns