Ira Sullivan - Blue Stroll with Johnny Griffin
  • 01 Wilbur's Tune
  • 02 My Old Flame
  • 03 Blue Stroll
  • 04 63rd Street Theme
  • 05 Bluzinbee
  • 06 Wilbur's Tune (alternate)
  • 01 Wilbur's Tune
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (06:07) [14.02 MB]
  • 02 My Old Flame
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (06:45) [15.43 MB]
  • 03 Blue Stroll
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (05:56) [13.59 MB]
  • 04 63rd Street Theme
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (07:28) [17.1 MB]
  • 05 Bluzinbee
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (19:51) [45.43 MB]
  • 06 Wilbur's Tune (alternate)
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (08:14) [18.83 MB]
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Ira Sullivan – Blue Stroll (w/ Johnny Griffin)
Delmark DE 402
Compact Disc (1997)

The 50’s saw many great musicians in Chicago but those appearing on this CD are among the best and most represented of that era. Ira Sullivan is noted for his versatility, playing several instruments at gigs and on recordings. Here is heard predominantly on trumpet but we also get a taste of baritone sax, alto sax and peck horn. Johnny Griffin is one of the finest tenor sax players in jazz. This 1959 session came shortly after Griffin recorded with Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey.

Ira Sullivan - Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Horn [Peck], Trumpet
Johnny Griffin - Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Victor Sproles - bass
Wilbur Campbell - drums
Jodie Christian - piano

1 Wilbur's Tune 6:03
2 My Old Flame 6:40
3 Blue Stroll 5:52
4 63rd Street Theme 7:24
5 Bluzinbee 19:46
6 Wilbur's Theme (alt.) 8:13

Recorded July 26, 1959, on North Avenue in Chicago's Old Town area.

"Chicago, Chicago
That Toddlin' Town..."

As the song, goes: Chicago, the toddling town.
Chicago is not a toddlin' town. It is a brawlin, tough, physical city. It is, as Carl Sandberg put it "the hog-butcher of the world" and "the city with big shoulders."
It is a physical, tough place, and even its teams play that way. The Bears do not finesse you, they try to break the ground with you. some people there will steal the ground from under your feet and the "outfit" might put you under it.
The music, blues, jazz, polka, rock, country, or tamburitza, is much the same. Not that the players lack sophistication or accomplishment but the music is as rough, ready, hard-driving, and unpretentious as the neighborhoods from which it springs.
Delmark Records is a Chicago label and as such, it has tried to capture that quality in its recording program and reissues of historical recordings-the essence of the Chicago scene. The 50's saw many great musicians in Chicago but those appearing on this album by the Ira Sullivan Quartet are among the best, and the group most representative of that era.
Ira Sullivan is noted outside of Chicago for his instrumental versatility, since Ira is accomplished on several instruments, playing them all well enough to gig successfully on them. When he played with Red Rodney the first time (c.1958) he played his second instrument, tenor sax. (His first instrument, by the way, is trumpet). His second time around with Red Rodney, ('78-'85) he added alto and soprano sax, and flute. He also recorded with the Billy Taylor Trio playing trumpet and tenor sax. When he was with Art Blakey he was heard on tenor (with Donald Byrd on trumpet). On this album he adds bari sax and peck horn.
Ira's partner on this album, and another Blakely alumnus, Johnny Griffin, was known as "the fastest horn in the West" and he was just that, for no one could match Johnny for speed though many tried. He was a prize pupil of the justly famous Captain Walter Dyett at DuSable High School, and left at the age of 15 to join Lionel Hampton, later joining the Joe Morris show band with vocalist Faye Adams. Speed was not his only attribute, and his creativeness and swing captured him spots with the Jazz Messengers and Thelonious Monk. He later fronted a group with fellow tenorist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Although he moved to New York shortly before the Delmark recordings*, he now lives in the south of France.
The rhythm section includes fellow DuSable-ites, Victor Sproles, bass; and Wilbur Campbell, drums; who both studied with Captain Dyett.
Since this session, Victor Sproles has moved to New York where he has become a fixture on the local scene. He has gigged regularly at the Cookery and backed such notables as Alberta Hunter and Hazel Scott occasionally returning to Chicago as a member of such groups as the Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Clark Terry, Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis.
Wilbur Campbell has remained on the local jazz scene, where he has become a "drummer emeritus." He is currently the house drummer at the Jazz Showcase, but before that he worked with Bird, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, and Dexter Gordon at the Crown Propeller, Pershing, Beehive, French Poodle, and McKie's, etc. He has achieved the difficult: having his own unique style on drums.
Jodie Christian, the pianist, proves that not all of Chicago's jazz musicians attended DuSable. He attended Wendell Philips High, Wright Jr. College, and Malcolm X College, and also did some air force time. His playing experience is prodigious. He has been part of a Jimmy Reed group that also included Von Freeman, and has played with Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Dexter Gordon, Coleman Hawkins, Lester young, and Eddie Harris as well as Ira's Chicago sets. He has recorded with les McCann, Buddy Montgomery, Eddie Harris, Stan Getz and Chet Baker. He can currently be found at the piano with the Brad Goode Quintet at Dave Jemilo's Green Mill, in the house band at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase or with Von Freeman or Eddie Johnson. He recently turned up on the Black Saint label in a Roscoe Mitchell session, and on Delmark DS-440, Shock of the News by the Goode group (for which Ira wrote the liner note).
I have no cute or hip way to end these notes so I can only give you the time honored jazz axiom-
Listen! -Emmanuel Cranshaw
Vibraphonist Emmanuel Cranshaw is himself quite active on the Chicago jazz scene, having recorded with Muhal Richard Abrams on Delmark, as well as various sessions on Chess's Argo and Cadet series.

This album was recorded July 26, 1959, a Sunday if memory serves, from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. at the tiny studio maintained by session musician Richard Cunliffe, on North Avenue in Chicago's Old Town area. The bathroom doubled as echo-chamber. Wilbur had to borrow a very cheap set of drums when he discovered his own equipment had been locked in the ballroom of the Sutherland Hotel. The replacement served until a spur gave out part-way thru Bluzinbee which forced Wilbur to conclude the take with his bass drum, etc. pitched at a 45-degree angle.
At one point in the remarkable track, Cunliffe was able to change-over from one Magnecorder to another when the tape ran out. The order of solos on Bluzinbee: Jodie, piano; Ira, bari; JG, alto; Ira, tpt; JG, tenor; Ira, peck horn; JG, bari sax; Ira, alto; drums.
-Bob Koester

  • Members:
    Ira Sullivan Quartet with Johnny Griffin
  • Sounds Like:
    hard bop
  • Influences:
    Jazz and bop
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
  • Profile Last Updated:
    08/16/23 18:16:37

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