Jazz's 'Memphis Mafia' on WFIU

NPR's jazz blog A Blog Supreme links to a WFIU (Indiana University) radio program called "The Memphis Mafia: Mabern, Strozier, Coleman and Little," about a group of Memphis musicians who came up together through Manassas High School and achieved wide acclaim in jazz in the late 1950s and '60s. Blogger Patrick Jarenwattananon writes that the Memphis hard-bop scene "begs for a professional history."

The program traces the four -- trumpeter Booker Little, saxophonists George Coleman and Frank Strozier, and pianist Harold Mabern -- from their roots in the better-known R&B/soul continuum of Memphis music through their move en masse to Chicago and their continuing legacy in jazz circles:

Little passed away at the age of 23 in 1961; Coleman and Mabern have performed and recorded together many times in the past two decades, while Strozier is not currently active on the jazz scene. The recordings they made in their youth heralded the arrival of a Memphis hardbop school that has, for the most part, gone unremarked in jazz histories.

WFIU also promises a future program dedicated to famed pianist Phineas Newborn Jr., whom you might have read about on this blog.


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  • About Links to Memphis

Deputy Online News Editor Mark Richens takes you through all the news about Memphis from sources outside the Mid-South.