In 1959, trombonist Arch Martin recorded a superb album for Zephyr Records, a Hollywood label that specialized in jazz and was distributed by GNP. The album was New Jazz From Kansas City, which featured Arch Martin (tb), Dick Busey (ts), Jay Shore (p), Dave Rizer (b) and John “Terry” Tirabasso (d). Thought the album was recorded in Kansas City, the music’s sound is West Coast in style.
Martin is virtually unknown to most jazz fans today, primarily because he spent most of his career in Kansas City as an educator and a music store manager. Born in Independence, Mo., in 1931, Martin began playing in Kansas City in the early 1950s and toured with various regional bands. In 1956, he toured Europe with Claude Thornhill and then Woody Herman in 1957 and ’58. From 1959 to 1998 Martin was a sales manager at Cole Music in Raytown, Mo., and then manager of Jenkins Music in Kansas City, Mo.
From 1973 to 1980, Martin was a judge for Jazz Band Festivals and taught jazz band at Summer Music Camps. He also appeared for several years with Clark Terry at the annual Kansas City Jazz Festival. Those scraps are as much as I could find online.
Listening to New Jazz From Kansas City, I find it astonishing Martin wasn’t more thoroughly recorded. His tone is fantastic and sense of swing and improvisation impeccable. Though the music is contrapuntal and upbeat, Kansas City’s swing tradition is embedded in the music, particularly through the pianist.
Busey, the tenor saxophonist, is another Kansas City musician who is barely known. His tone and attack remind me of the West Coast’s Jack Montrose. Shore was an interesting pianist whose left hand loved the bottom-most notes on the keyboard while his right hand ran bop lines on top. This is his only known jazz album. The same goes for Rizer, the bassist.
The tracks on New Jazz From Kansas City are a mix of originals (Six A.M. Blues by Dick Busey, Eyeball by Bob Ousley, Desperation by Arch Martin, Paul’s Tune by Paul Moer, Birdfeathers by Dick Busey and Muddy Shoes by Arch Martin) and standards (I Never Knew, Black and Blue, ‘Deed I Do and Love Your Magic Spell Is Everywhere ).
It’s inconceivable to me how a group this potent could have recorded only one superb album and why they fell by the wayside. One can only wonder what might have happened if their sole recording had been issued by RCA instead.
Arch Martin died in 2009 at age 78.
JazzWax tracks: I can’t find Arch Martin’s New Jazz From Kansas City anywhere online except as an LP at eBay. Hopefully Fresh Sound will consider it along with Martin’s Jazz in Good Taste.
I did see a download of New Jazz From Kansas City here.
JazzWax clips: How good is this album? Here’s I Never Knew…
Here’s Dick Busey’s Birdfeathers…
A special thanks to Doug Paterson.