5 for Friday: 5 Great Jazz Musicians Born in Boston

I’m going to try this feature out and see if I like it. Every Friday at 5pm, I’ll post a list of five…things. For the first one, I’ve assembled a list of five all-time greats born in the Boston area. The list includes: two members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, two of the greatest drummers of all time, and two who would lead successful fusion bands in the 1970s. Wait, that’s six! What gives?! (In order by year of birth.)

Johnny Hodges (1907-1970)

From Cambridge, Johnny and his alto sax was arguably the most greatest soloist in an orchestra (the Duke’s) that had no shortage of them.

Harry Carney (1910-1974)

Versatile reeds man with Duke Ellington. Probably best known for his work on baritone sax, but also played alto and clarinet.

Roy Haynes (1924- )

What do Charlie Parker and the Allman Brothers Band have in common? They’ve shared a stage with Roy Haynes. At 93 (!), Roy Haynes is still an active jazz musician. I caught his performance last May at Scullers in Boston and let’s just say that despite being slowed down, the guy was absurdly spry (tap dancing, anyone?), can still swing, and played drum solos that some guys a quarter his age would struggle with.

Chick Corea (1941- )

After beginning his career playing “jazz” jazz in the early ’60s, Chelsea-born Corea effortlessly made the switch to jazz-rock and led one of the most successful fusion outfits of the ’70s in Return to Forever. Continues to be a top concert draw.

Tony Williams (1945-1997)

Famously plucked from obscurity (and Boston) at the ripe old age of 17 by Jackie McLean, Tony Williams would become, like Roy Haynes, one of the most influential drummers who ever lived. Did the fusion thing in the ’70s before returning to jazz more regularly in the ’80s and ’90s, until his tragic heart attack in 1997.

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