Don Sickler: I can still remember the thrill of meeting the legendary pianist Phineas Newborn, thanks to composer/pianist James Williams. James first brought him to our rehearsal studio in NYC to go over music for some upcoming projects James had planned for Phineas, probably in the early 1980s.
Phineas Newborn, Jr., can already be found on jazzleadsheets.com playing Ray Bryant's Reflection on the classic Roy Haynes trio session "We Three," recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's Hackensack studio in 1958. Pianist James Williams would have only been seven years old at that time, so he may not have been familiar with Phineas then. On the other hand, the astute James Williams might have already been digging Phineas' playing! They were both in Memphis.
Phineas is connected to SFM/jazzleadsheets in other ways: he was the first pianist to record Clifford Brown's Daahoud in a piano trio context in 1956. For a real treat, check out Phineas playing Ray Bryant's classic Cubano Chant (solo piano in 1979) [click on the album cover with Ray's giant hands and scroll down to see the video].
Now jazzleadsheets wants to celebrate Phineas Newborn, Jr., with five tribute pieces by three of our composers. Phineas was a big time hometown hero to both James and Donald Brown. Geoffrey Keezer also got to meet and hang out with Phineas through James. Check out how Phineas inspired these composers!
-- by Donald Brown