Phineas Newborn

Phineas Newborn Jr. - overlooked legend.
Phineas Newborn Jr. – overlooked legend.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Jazz Scene USA – Phineas Newborn Jr. Trio – October 15, 1962

Jazz Aficionados know about this one, and most likely know it by heart. It’s been available on video for a long time and was part of a short-lived, but extremely important TV series produced by Steve Allen.

But I ran across this and realized, a lot of people don’t know who Phineas Newborn was – that he was one of the great Jazz pianists of the 20th century makes the fact that he has been overlooked in recent years all that more baffling.

He did have a troubled life, and according to reports was in and out of mental institutions for much of the time, and this probably had something to do with his career relegated to fits and starts. He was a virtuoso musician, who was as comfortable playing Classical as he was Jazz. Listening to his reference to a Ravel Sonatine offers a tantalizing glimpse of what he could have been like in the concert hall, and no doubt would have had composers clamoring to dedicate works to him.

But his horizons were huge and he was a facile player of a number of instruments, which makes his neglect poignant and frustrating.

So, for those of you just coming to Jazz, or are in the process of discovering the giants who freely roamed the earth, here is a sampling of Phineas Newborn Jr. and his Trio, as recorded for the Jazz Scene USA series on October 15, 1962. The video is around, in fact, its on YouTube. But this is music you really need to experience for the first time with your eyes closed; letting the notes speak for themselves without the aid of visuals. There’s plenty of time for that.

For now, just enjoy.

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