5 for Friday: 5 Pairs of Jazzmen Born on the Same Day

Ah, the random things that will catch your eye when you’re studying jazz history. I have found 5 pairs of jazz musicians who share the same birth date. Not just the same day, but the same year, too. Useful? Probably not. Mildly interesting? I guess that’s up to the reader. One observation is that for each pair, one of them was considerably more well know to the general public.

Here they are, in chronological order…

1. Vince Guaraldi and Joe Morello – July 17, 1928

Guaraldi was, of course, “Mr. Peanuts”, penning the scores for numerous classic Charlie Brown specials in the ’60s. And Morello, the legendary virtuoso who anchored the Dave Brubeck Quartet for so many years.

Coincidence: Dave Brubeck was actually writer/producer/director Lee Mendelson’s first choice to score the Peanuts.

2. Jackie McLean and Dewey Redman – May 17, 1931

Jackie Mac, began as a precocious Bird-loving bopster, but embraced the avant-garde of the ’60s, even as few of his generation did.

Dewey Redman was probably best known for his work with Ornette Coleman.

Coincidence: Both had sons who became celebrated sax players in their own right, namely, René McLean and Joshua Redman.

3. Scott LoFaro and Jack Wilson – April 3, 1936

Scott LoFaro died tragically in a car accident at just 25, but not before cementing his legacy as one of the most sparklingly innovative and virtuosic bassists of his (or any) generation.

Jack Wilson was a chronically underrated pianist whose modest Blue Note discography probably gets a lot of first-time listeners (like me) wondering how he stayed so far under the radar.

Coincidence: Both spent time studying music in college, LoFaro at Ithaca College and Wilson at Indiana University. This probably wouldn’t noticed today, but in the ’50s and ’60s, it was much less common for jazz musicians to have spent time in college, whether or not they graduated.

4. Spanky deBrest and Joe Henderson – April 24, 1937

Like fellow Philadelphian Lee Morgan, bassist Spanky deBrest died very young (35) in the early ’70s. Notable played on Art Blakey’s aptly titled “Hard Bop” LP in 1956 (on which Jackie McLean also appeared).

As for Joe, he needs no introduction, does he? Although his recording career started a bit later than some due to his time in the U.S. Army, his 1960s discography is on par with anything from the era. On a very short list of the greatest tenor players in history.

Coincidence: Nothing notable that I’m aware of, other than that they played with some of the same people.

5. Freddie Hubbard and Pete LaRoca – April 7, 1938

Freddie, of course, is one of the more identifiable — and successful — trumpet stylists in jazz history. If I’m listening to something unfamiliar that has that vintage Blue Note vibe, I can always tell it’s Freddie because of his chops. (Same sort of thing with McCoy Tyner. No one else was playing their instruments like in that era.)

Pete LaRoca has a unique biography. I can’t think of anyone else who made it to the top artistically (as a leader and sideman he recorded albums with many ’60s greats, including Henderson and McLean), but gave it up to become a lawyer.

Coincidence: Freddie and Pete appeared on two of Freddie’s Blue Note releases in the mid-1960s.

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