Reminiscing in Tempo: Memories and Opinion/Volume Eight: When you were growing up, what were three or four of your parents’ favorite recordings?

November 14th, 2006

I’d have to say, in no particular order, an LP box set of Bach organ preludes, an LP box set of Handel’s “Messiah,” and the recordings of my father’s high school choirs (on labels specializing in small-number issues specifically for sale to audiences supportive of high school activities).

They also had some Frank Sinatra V-Discs my father had from WWII that sounded like listening to history (in a good way).

They never really had much in the way of a recording collection. Most of the music we had in our house was live.

Frank Sinatra


I Only Have Eyes For You

You’ve Got A Hold On Me



Some of the albums I remember hearing all the time:

“Birth of the Cool,” Gil Evans

“Sketches of Spain,” Miles Davis

“A Night in Tunisia,” Dizzy Gillespie

“The Hottest New Group in Jazz,” Lambert, Hendricks and Ross

My parents were close personally to Billie Holiday, who was my godmother, and Duke Ellington; I heard so much of their music that I really can’t single out one album for either. My mom was also a big Art Pepper fan!


Lambert, Hendricks and Ross







Both my parents loved Jazz but were not musicians. My father grew up in Harlem, was around all the in places where Jazz was performed and was a manager of a place that had Lucy Roberts and Art Tatum playing together from time to time.

My father would pick me up at age 3-5 and hold me in his arms as he danced to what I would consider some of his favorite records:

1. Stompy Jones – Duke Ellington

2. She’s Funny That Way – Charlie Shavers

3. Various Art Tatum recordings

4. Trumpets No End (Blue Skies) – Duke Ellington

5. Tulip Or Turnip – Duke Ellington

6. Various Billie Holiday recordings

I was born in 1943 in New York and started to play the trumpet in 1953 at age 10. At one time I had the feeling my dad was putting the trumpet into me ears and heart. My father took me to the Apollo to see Max Roach/Clifford Brown.





Father loved “Amazing Grace.” This is what prompted my recording of this title several times.

Mom loved “Come Ye Disconsolate.” This is what prompted my recording of this title for CTI Records in 1969.


Amazing Grace, by Mahalia Jackson

Come Ye Disconsolate, by The Sensational Nightingales









Chopin – “Les Quartoze Valses”, Dinu Lipatti (Columbia)

Beethoven – “Les Sonates de Beethoven” par Yves Nat (Discophiles Français)

Shumann – “Concerto en la Mineur”, Dinu Lipatti (Columbia)


Jimmy Smith – “The Sermon” (Blue Note)

Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers – (Blue Note), Art Blakey – “Orgy in Rhythm” (Blue Note)

Miles Davis – “Kind of Blue” (Columbia)



Jimmy Smith


The Sermon

Art Blakey


Ya Ya




My mother listened, when she was younger, to the pop music of the day. She loved Billy Eckstine’s recording of “Blue Moon“. But by the time I was around it was mostly classical music. A lot of opera… Turandot, The Marriage of Figaro… I also remember Porgy and Bess and the soundtrack to Sweeny Todd.

My father loved Brubeck’s Time Out, and lots of recordings by Sinatra. I especially remember “Only The Lonely.”


Sweeny Todd


Prelude: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd

Time Out, by Dave Brubeck


Take Five



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