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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Soulful Days: The Cal Massey Songbook

Exploring the work of an unheralded jazz composer.

Blues to Massey: the only LP that he ever recorded as a leader.

Trumpeter Cal Massey was an African-American jazz composer, little-known now and in his lifetime, but whose work was recorded by musicians such as John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Parker, Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner, and Archie Shepp. In the 1960s Massey made his Brooklyn home into a kind of community center for jazz artists and produced many concerts, including benefits for the Black Panthers. A longtime friend of Coltrane, he read the tenor saxophonist’s poem “A Love Supreme” at Coltrane’s 1967 funeral. Massey died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 44; his son, Zane Massey, is a well-respected saxophonist on the modern jazz scene. (As a child Zane was also the inspiration for Massey’s composition “Father and Son,” tapping out a figure on drums that would become his father’s basis for the melody.) We’ll hear recordings of Massey’s music from many of the above-named artists.

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