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Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz For Justice (last episode).

Norman Granz - 1918 -2001.

This is the last blogpost about the live of  Norman Granz, based on the book “Norman Granz, The Man Who Used Jazz For Justice” by Tad Hershorn.

On November 22, 2001, Norman Granz died in bed in his Geneva appartment in the early hours of the morning. His tremendous contribution to the world of jazz will never be forgotten. As founder of the Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts which he rolled out in the USA, Europe and Japan, his innovative first live jazz recordings, the Clef, Norgran,Verve and Pablo labels he founded, his business management over decades for Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass, his commitment to numerous and famous jazz musicians, his involvement in the Montreux Jazz Festivals, one can say the world of jazz would have looked totally different without him.

As The Los Angeles Time wrote: “Norman Granz set the business of jazz through most of the twentieth century. He helped end the two-track system in which white players generally earned more than blacks and helped integrate jazz on a large commercial scale”. An extensive interview with author Tad Hershorn of the book cab be found on JazzWax. To close the circle, here is the famous Coleman Hawkins version of “Body and Soul”  which made Norman Granz a jazz fan when he heard this for the first time in his life.


Norman Granz presents film: “IMPROVISATION” with unique Charlie Parker / Coleman Hawkins duet

Gjon Mili shooting Improvisation (Google / LIFE Images)

In 1950 Norman Granz started to produce a new short film with photographer Gjon Mili as sequel to their earlier film Jammin’ The Blues“. It was only released in 1996 as part of a film called “Improvisation”  which included a compilation of performances of Granz’ musicians over the 1950 – 1970 timeframe. Several parts of this film are on You Tube available (at least until the day of writing this blogpost).


Part 1 – introduction by Norman Granz introducing Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins playing for the first time together, performing a duet on “Ballade”, an improvisation to “As Long As I Live”.

Part 3 – Announced by Norman Granz, this part of the film is about a piece performed by the rythm section with Hank Jones (piano), Ray Brown (bass) and Buddy Rich on drums.

Part 4 – And now Lester Young and Bill Harris join……………

Part  5 – And Now Harry Sweets Edison, Flip Philips and Ella Fitzgerald join………………..

Part 6 – Duke Ellington improvising in the Cote d’Azur with John Lamb and Sam Woodyard.

 Part 7 – Count Basie Jam in Montreux with Ray Brown (double bass)  and Jummy Smith (drums)

Part 8 – Count Basie Jam: Benny Carter, Zoot Zims, Roy Eldridge, Vick Dickenson, Al Grey join !

Part 9 – Count Basie Jam: Ballad time, Benny Carter plays “These Foolish Things”.

Part 10 – Joe Pass improvises on “Ain’t Misbehaving” and “Prelude To A Kiss” – Solo !

Part 11 – Ella Fitzgerald: “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” and “I Got It Bad (and that ain’t good)

Part 12 – Oscar Peterson Jam – “Ali vs. Frazer” or better Terry versus Gillespie.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4



Basie’s jam with Ray and Jimmy in “Nob’s Blues”.

Through his involvement in the famous Montreux Jazz Festivals Norman Granz used the ample opportunities the festival gave him to promote his Pablo musicians. As someone said, “Granz is not an innovator but a popularizer”. That remains to be seen in the light of history but fact of the matter is that through Montreux he used a lot of commercial opportunities like selling records and video’s / DVD’s of the festival. In 1977 he put together a group of musicians lead by Count Basie. In this video we hear the announcement of Norman Granz introducing the Basie Trio with Ray Brown and drummer Jimmie Smith in a brilliant jam playing Nob’s Blues.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4


Norman Granz introduces the Clark Terry Sextet at The Montreux Jazz Festival.

Ella and Norman (on the background Joe Pass)

In 1975 Norman Granz got heavily involved in the Montreux Jazz Festival In Switzerland when director Claude Nobs gave Granz three nights of programming as a showcase for his Pablo Records artists. The Montreux Casino was equipped with television capabilities, so the proceedings were videotaped. Granz’ involvement in Montreux lasted till 1983 during which period he relased video’s and recordings of this main jazz event. In the video below we see a group of musicians performing in Montreux in the best JATP tradition. It is The Clark Terry Sextet with Terry on flugelhorn, Milt Jackson (vibes), Joe Pass (guitar), Ronnie Scott (tenorsax), Oscar Peterson (piano), Niels-Henning Pedersen (double bass) and Bobby Durham (drums) in a nice swinging composition called ” Minor Blues”.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4


Last JATP concert Tokyo 1983.

In 1983 the Jazz At The Philharmonic series came to an end after Norman Granz started the first JATP in 1944 in Los Angeles. The concerts were held in Japan by invitation of a large Japanese music publisher. JATP had toured Japan a number of times and Granz selected the musicians which had been JATP core members for so long, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. The line up was completed with Joe Pass, Harry Edison, Clark Terry, Zoot Zims, Eddy ‘Lockjaw” Davis and J.J. Johnson. Listen to this incredible version of ‘On Danish Shore” with Oscar Peterson’s Big 4 with Joe Pass, Niels Pedersen en Martin Drew.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4


Norman’s idea: Sarah’s duets with Oscar, Joe, Ray and Louie

In 1978 Norman Granz contracted Sarah Vaughan for his Pablo jazz label. He felt that this great singer did not get the chance enough to record material in line with her talent and skills. That year he released “How Long Has This been Going On” where she was accompanied by Granz’ veterans Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, Ray Brown and Louie Bellson. Again Granz showed his great producer skills  by suggesting that Sarah should sing duets with each of the quartet members: “More Than You Know” with Peterson, “My Old Flame” with Pass, “Body And Soul” with Brown and “When Your Lover Has Gone” with Bellson. Listen in below video’s to these four brilliant duets where the original compositions are “re-written” by Sarah and the musicians.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

Duet with Oscar Peterson “More Than You Know” (with Peterson making a reference to “Concierto de Aranjuez” in the intro)

Duet met Joe Pass “My Old Flame”

Duet with Ray Brown “Body And Soul”.

Duet with Louie Bellson “When Your Lover Has Gone”.


Oscar,Niels and Joe: The Trio.

As Norman Granz was the business manager of both Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass it was logical he would bring the two giants together on his new founded Pablo recording label. He did so by recording and releasing the album The Trio with Joe Pass and Niels Pedersen on doublebass. The albums showed how seamlessly Pass had combined his own playing with the highly competitive dialogue of Petersen and Pedersen. The album won a Grammy Award. Here is a video recorded twelve years later in Italy where the trio performs “Cake Walk”. It is a witness of the longtime period this fantastic trio worked together.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

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