Tune in to The Night Beat with your host Doug Crane on Wednesday May 3rd at 8pm as he pays a birthday tribute to trombonist Jimmy Cleveland (born May 3, 1926 in Wartrace, TN; died August 23, 2008 in Lynwood, CA) and spins Side 2 of bassist Eberhard Weber’s 1974 “The Colours of Chloe” released on ECM Records in 1974.
Jimmy Cleveland is one of many largely forgotten jazz trombonists deserving of far greater recognition. And when speaking of Jimmy one has to make mention of his wife, vocalist Janet Thurlow. The two met in 1951 while both were members of Lionel Hampton’s band and married in 1953.
Janet grew up as part of a musical family in Seattle, WA. On her recommendation to Hampton, he hired one of her friends, a young trumpet player by the name of Quincy Jones.
In 1955, Jimmy recorded his first of four albums for EmArcy Records. All of the music was arranged by and some of the selections were composed by Quincy Jones.
Jimmy was one of that rare breed of musicians that was not only a technical wizard but an extremely musical one as well, an extraordinary feat especially on trombone.
While appearing as a sideman on a number of recordings from the mid-1950s through the 1960s, most of them gave him scant opportunities for extended solo space. Notable exceptions would be Michel Legrand’s “Legrand Jazz” (1958) and Quincy Jones “Walking in Space” (1969) where Jimmy’s solo on the title tune is but one of its many highlights.
In 1967, Jimmy and his wife Janet moved from New York to Los Angeles where his most prominent gig was as a trombonist in the Merv Griffin TV talk show band led by Mort Lindsey. He worked with bandleader Gerald Wilson in the early 1980s, would occasionally lead his own nine piece band and is heard on the soundtrack for “Dingo”, a 1991 Australian film starring and featuring a score by Miles Davis. The last recorded appearance by Jimmy that I’ve been able to find is on saxophonist Teddy Edwards’ “Mississippi Lad” released in 1991.
Recorded in December 1973, “The Colours of Chloe” was the first of bassist Eberhard Weber’s many albums for the ECM label. We’ll feature the entire second side of the original LP comprising but one song “No Motion Picture” during the 9pm hour. The recording also features cellos from the Südfunk Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart and piano/synthesizer work from Rainer Brüninghaus who appears on a number of Weber’s albums. Be forewarned: some of the synthesizer effects sound as if they were taken directly from 1970’s episodes of “Doctor Who” when Tom Baker played the Doctor. Other than that, the music still sounds fresh (at least to me) in 2023.