Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Dick Cary’s Tuesday Night Friends: Catching Up

Dick Cary’s friends are keeping alive his astonishing output of undated, unclassifiable compositions and arrangements. Cary’s most visible musical roles were as pianist, trumpeter, mellophonist and alto horn operator in bands playing Dixieland. The term Dixieland rankled him but he was stuck with it because of his associations. In the early 1940s Cary was house pianist at Nick’s traditional jazz emporium in Greenwich Village. His highlights as a player came with Louis Armstrong’s original All-Stars and in a productive association with Bobby Hackett in the 1950s. Throughout his career he also worked as an arranger, for Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Glen Gray, Hackett and his own bands, among others.

For his last couple of decades Cary, who died in 1994, held sessions once a week at his house which were populated by Los Angeles studio musicians eager to play his intriguing, unconventional charts. This album has some of those friends playing 16 of his pieces. The music is full of rich textures, unexpected rhythmic displacements, written lines that sound improvised, pungent 20th century classical harmonies, exuberance, wryness, subtlety and nothing that sounds like Dixieland. Most of the pieces are Cary’s, but when he tackled a standard like “Black and Blue” he transformed it. Cary’s arrangements inspire fine solos from the ensemblists, especially clarinetist Abe Most, tenor saxophonist Tommy Newsom and the late trombonist Betty O’Hara. Newsom, a focused and consistently interesting soloist, radiates the spirit of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. Dick Hamilton, who leads the group, is impressive on piano, trumpet and the alto horn he inherited from Cary.

Originally Published