Harold Mabern (born March 20, 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee) is a hard bop, post-bop and soul jazz pianist and composer. He is described in The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings as "one of the great post-bop pianists".
Mabern initially started learning drums, before switching to piano. He attended Douglass High School, before transferring to Manassas High School; he played with Frank Strozier, George Coleman and Booker Little at this time, but was most influenced by pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr. In 1954, after graduating, Mabern moved to Chicago, where, unable to afford to attend music college because of a change in his parents' financial circumstances, he developed by listening to Ahmad Jamal and others in clubs, but remained self-taught as a pianist. Mabern went on to play with Walter Perkins' MJT + 3 and others in Chicago.
Life from 1959Edit
Mabern moved to New York in 1959. According to his own account, he moved there with saxophonist Frank Strozier on November 21, 1959, checked in at a hotel and then went to Birdland, where he met Cannonball Adderley, who asked him if he wanted a gig. Mabern accepted, and was shown inside, where trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, who was looking for a pianist to replace the soon-to-depart Tommy Flanagan, auditioned him and offered him the place. A few weeks later, most of the members of this band then joined Jimmy Forrest for a recording in Chicago that resulted in the albums All the Gin is Gone and Black Forrest, which were also the debut recordings for guitarist Grant Green. Mabern steadily built a reputation in New York as a sideman, playing with, among others, the Jazztet for 18 months in the period 1961–1962, Lionel Hampton's big band, and Roy Haynes; after completing a 1963 tour with Haynes, he had a six-week engagement at the Black Hawk in San Francisco with Miles Davis. Mabern went on to spend time with J. J. Johnson in 1963–1965. In 1965 he also played with Lee Morgan, an association that continued on and off until the night in February 1972 that Morgan was shot dead at Slug's Saloon, with Mabern present. Mabern toured in Europe with Wes Montgomery later in 1965 as part of a band that had been together for around two years before the European tour, traveling as a quartet from gig to gig in one car. Mabern later worked with Hank Mobley (1965), Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Sarah Vaughan, and Joe Williams (1966–1967).
Mabern's recording career as a leader began in 1968, after he signed for Prestige Records early that year. His first album, A Few Miles from Memphis, featured several of his own originals. Further dates for Prestige were released, and Mabern has gone on to record approximately 20 albums as leader, for a variety of labels. Mabern has worked intermittently over a period of four decades with George Coleman, beginning in the 1960s, and including an appearance at the 1976 Newport Jazz Festival. Among other musicians Mabern played with around this period were Milt Jackson in 1977, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson in 1981 and James Moody the following year. There have also been performances and recordings with innumerable other musicians, both as leader and sideman. Mabern has also worked with two piano-based groups: the Piano Choir, formed and led by Stanley Cowell from the early 1970s and featuring at least six pianists/keyboardists, and the four-player Contemporary Piano Ensemble, the latter being formed in the early 1990s to pay tribute to Phineas Newborn, Jr. and touring extensively, including at the Montreal (1991) and Monterey Jazz Festivals (1996). He also went to Japan in 1990 as a member of a ten-pianist group that toured together but played and recorded separately. In later years, he recorded extensively with his former William Paterson University student, the tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. Mabern's popularity in Japan is reflected in his signing for the Japanese label Venus, which has resulted in six albums from 2002; Mabern stated in 2004 that his 2002 recording for Venus, Kiss of Fire, featuring Alexander as a guest, was his best seller. A longtime faculty member at William Paterson University, Mabern is a frequent instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. Mabern's stated piano preference is "naturally the Steinway D, but if you can't get a D, any Steinway".
Mabern's piano style has been described as being "aggressive, very positive, crashing out chords that drop like pile drivers and warming up and down the keyboard with huge, whooping bursts of action", while, at the same time, he shows "a keen sensitivity" as "an extremely perceptive accompanist". Critic Gary Giddins has identified some of the characteristics of Mabern's playing as being "blues glisses, [...] tremolos and dissonant block chords", that help to create a style "that marries McCoy Tyner's clustering modality with rippling asides that stem from [Art] Tatum".
Years refer to the date of recording, unless an asterisk (*) is next to the year; this indicates that it is the date of initial release.
|1968||A Few Miles from Memphis||Prestige||Mabern's first release as leader|
|1968||Rakin' and Scrapin'||Prestige||Mabern also plays electric piano|
|1969||Workin' & Wailin'||Prestige||Mabern also plays electric piano|
|1970||Greasy Kid Stuff!||Prestige||Sextet, with Lee Morgan (trumpet), Hubert Laws (flute, tenor sax), Buster Williams (bass), Idris Muhammad (drums), Joe Jones (guitar; 1 track)|
|1978||Pisces Calling||InterPlay||Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Walter Bolden (drums)|
|1984–1985||Joy Spring||Sackville||Solo piano, in concert|
|1989||Straight Street||DIW||Trio, with Ron Carter (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)|
|1991–1992||Philadelphia Bound||Sackville||Duo, with Kieran Overs (bass)|
|1993||Lookin' on the Bright Side||DIW||Trio, with Christian McBride (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)|
|1995||For Phineas||Sackville||Duo, with Geoff Keezer (piano), in concert|
|1992–1993||The Leading Man||Disk Union||Trio, with Christian McBride & Ron Carter (bass; separately), Jack DeJohnette (drums)|
|1996||Mabern's Grooveyard||DIW||Trio, with Tony Reedus (drums)|
|1999||Maya with Love||DIW||Trio, with Christian McBride (bass), Tony Reedus (drums)|
|2001||Kiss of Fire||Venus||Trio, with Nat Reeves (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums); Eric Alexander as guest|
|2003||Falling in Love with Love||Venus||Trio, with George Mraz (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)|
|2003||Don't Know Why||Venus||Trio, with Nat Reeves (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)|
|2004||Fantasy||Venus||Trio, with Dwayne Burno (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)|
|2005||Somewhere Over the Rainbow||Venus||Trio, with Dwayne Burno (bass), Willie Jones III (drums)|
|2012||Mr. Lucky||HighNote||Quartet, with Eric Alexander (tenor sax), John Webber (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)|
|1997||Template:Sortname||Mode For Mabes||Delmark|
|1999||Template:Sortname||The First Milestone||Milestone|
|2000||Template:Sortname||The Second Milestone||Milestone|
|2002||Template:Sortname||Nightlife In Tokyo||Milestone|
|2005||Template:Sortname||It's All In The Game||HighNote|
|1999||Template:Sortname||Live at the Keynote||Video Arts|
|2009||Template:Sortname||Revival of the Fittest||HighNote|
|2009||Template:Sortname||Chim Chim Cheree||Venus|
|2010||Template:Sortname||Don't Follow the Crowd||HighNote|
|1970||Template:Sortname||The Black Cat!||Prestige|
|1964||Template:Sortname||Inside Betty Carter||United Artistis|
|1998||Template:Sortname||I Could Write a Book: The Music of Richard Rogers||Telarc|
|1989||Template:Sortname||Four Pianos for Phineas||Evidence|
|1993||Template:Sortname||The Key Players||Sony|
|2006||Template:Sortname||New York Accent||Cellar Live|
|1962||Template:Sortname||Here and Now||Mercury|
|1962||Template:Sortname||Another Git Together||Mercury|
|2004*||Template:Sortname||It's Prime Time||Village|
|2011||Template:Sortname||Super Prime Time||Sony|
|1959||Template:Sortname||All the Gin is Gone||Delmark|
|1974*||Template:Sortname||Man & Woman||Groove Merchant|
|1979*||Template:Sortname||Variety is the Spice||Gryphon|
|2000||Template:Sortname||Into the Heaven||Columbia|
|1965||Template:Sortname||The Night of the Cookers||Blue Note|
|1965||Template:Sortname||Blue Spirits||Blue Note|
|1990||Template:Sortname||Piano Playhouse 1990||Absord Music Japan|
|1963||Template:Sortname||Reeds & Deeds||Mercury|
|1963||Template:Sortname||The Roland Kirk Quartet Meets the Benny Golson Orchestra||Mercury|
|1966||Template:Sortname||Bring It Home to Me||Blue Note|
|1965||Template:Sortname||The Gigolo||Blue Note|
|1970||Template:Sortname||Live at the Lighthouse||Blue Note|
|1971||Template:Sortname||The Last Session||Blue Note|
|1970||Template:Sortname||Black Rhythm Revolution!||Prestige|
|2004||Template:Sortname||Powder Keg||Two & Four|
|1996||Template:Sortname||Scotch and Milk||Delmark|
|2000||Template:Sortname||Chic Boom Live at the Jazz Showcase||Delmark|
|1997||Template:Sortname||Jim's Bop||Criss Cross|
|1960||Template:Sortname||MJT + 3||Vee-Jay|
|1962||Template:Sortname||March of the Siamese Children||Jazzland|
|1977||Template:Sortname||What's Goin' On||Steeplechase|
|1971||Template:Sortname||The Sugar Man||CTI|
|1973||Template:Sortname||Don't Mess with Mister T.||CTI|
|1983||Template:Sortname||First Venture||Big Tampa|
|1965||Template:Sortname||Kings Of The Guitar||Beppo|
|1965||Template:Sortname||Belgium 1965 Rounder||Vestapool|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira (2007) The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, p. 425. Oxford University Press.
- ↑ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008) The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.) Penguin. p. 1136.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Jonah Jonathan's video interview with Harold Mabern.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Johnson, David Brent (March 18, 2011) "A Few Miles From Memphis: Harold Mabern, the Early Years" Indiana Public Media.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Shanley, Mike (April 2003) "Harold Mabern: The Accompanist" Jazz Times.
- ↑ Gilbert, Andrew (December 2006) "Harold Mabern and Eric Alexander: Getting Schooled" Jazz Times.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 MJT + 3 at allmusic
- ↑ "Jimmy Forrest – All the Gin is Gone: review" AllMusic review.
- ↑ "Grant Green Catalog" Jazzdisco Grant Green discography.
- ↑ Fitzgerald, Tim "625 Alive: The Wes Montgomery BBC Performance Transcribed" pp. vii–ix.
- ↑ Billboard (April 06, 1968) "Signings". Billboard, p. 14.
- ↑ Balliett, Whitney (2000) Collected Works: A Journal of Jazz, 1954–2000. Granta Books. p. 473.
- ↑ Friedwald, Will (August 13, 2010) "August Sounds Embrace the Sweltering City" Wall Street Journal [online edition].
- ↑ Ford, Robert (March 26, 1977) "Talent in Action" Billboard.
- ↑ Wilson, John S. (August 08, 1981) "Jazz 4: Eddie Vinson" New York Times p. 28.
- ↑ Stokes, W. Royal (May 15, 1982) "Moody's Sizzling Saxophone & Flute" The Washington Post.
- ↑ "Contemporary Piano Ensemble" AllMusic.
- ↑ "100 Gold Fingers: Piano Playhouse 1990" AllMusic.
- ↑ All About Jazz: Harold Mabern and Eric Alexander: The Art of Duo (May 4, 2005).
- ↑ Wilson, John S. (March 03, 1977) "Jazz: Quartet With Keen Pianist" New York Times p. 29.
- ↑ Giddins, Gary (January 20, 1998) "Beale Street Talks" The Village Voice.
- Johnson Jr., George V., Talking Jazz with Harold Mabern, Entertainment, Tuesday, July 14, 2009