October 25, 2014 | Posted in JAZZ | By

What might have been for jazz

Dec. 29, 1967 is a date thTyrone Washington Blue Note Natural Essenceat could have marked the beginning of legendary jazz career. Instead, the one recording as a leader for Blue Note Records from Tyrone Washington, was his only one for the label.

Tyrone was only 23 when Natural Essence was released, and this recording was his first of only a few as a leader period.

While he did match wits with trumpeter Woody Shaw on pianist Horace Silver’s classic The Jody Grind, not a whole heck of a lot is known about this fine tenor saxophonist; apparently he left the music world entirely for his religious faith.

One wonders why Tyrone couldn’t reconcile his god given talent, with his moral convictions, as John Coltrane and so many others were able to do?

You have to admire a man who actually does put his money where his mouth is and pursues the life they are called to do, and Tyrone certainly is a fine example of that.

Natural Essence is a hidden gem in the Blue Note lexicon. Many at the time  “young lions” of jazz take part on this session. Pianist Kenny Barron, trumpeter Woody Shaw, altoist James Spaulding, drummer Joe Chambers, and Bassist Reggie Workman, they all went on to great acclaim within the jazz world.

The Jody Grind

The Jody Grind, a Horace Silver album that is probably the most underrated of all of his Horace Silver Woody Shaw Tyrone Washington Jody Grind Blue Note Albumsessions. A session that took place in November of 1966, and features many of the same players from the Natural Essence session of a few months later.

Tyrone offers some stellar tenor work of his own on this funky bop date. Silver reached back to the style of Song for My Father.

The Jody Grind is Both Funky and shows elements of the post bop style. The groove is strong here, with very tight solos throughout. The title track as well as grease piece are my favorites.

Third and last recording as a leader: Do Right

This rare album Do Right is what I would define as a jazz funk album, many styles are clear though. It has that early 70’s Sly and the Family Stone vibe, with some very average singing on it, but a few tunes stretch out.

The straight ahead instrumental stuff is very good, while the vocal numbers are not my cup of tea. I get the feeling listening to this music.

Tyrone was struggling between creating solid jazz, and creating commercially viable music. Lets face it, not to many people were buying avant-garde leaning jazz albums, but slicker funky jazz has always had a market.

With Stanley Cowell Brilliant Circles

Here is another obscure album I discovered from pianist Stanley Cowell.  Stanley is primarily known for playing on many of Charles Tolliver’s early albums.  Tyrone Washington appears on Brilliant Circles, a fantastic avant-garde styled post bop album. Certainly not all out free jazz, but some of the same free pop that Washington did for his loan Blue Note album Natural Essence.

Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, and Joe Chambers on Drums join the underrated album. If you are a fan of the late 60’s work of Andrew Hill, I think you will like Cowell, and with Washington on tenor, it’s one more album to add to your collection.

In the end, it seems Tyrone chose a higher calling, and who are we to judge? Perhaps this small recorded legacy is all we were supposed to get, I guess you have to look at it as a gift, and not an opportunity lost.


Jason Sositko, a freelance writer and entrepreneur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I also use services such as Viglink and Skimlinks to earn income via links placed inside articles.

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