Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 17 Aug. '18, Newark NJ; d 16 Jan. '63 NYC) Tenor sax. Played piano professionally '41--2; debut on tenor '42 established him as master of late Swing Era style. Co-wrote 'Mop Mop' with Kenny Clarke, recorded later by Coleman Hawkins on one of the first bop recording sessions; worked in NYC, Chicago etc with Hawkins, Benny Carter, many others; joined Cab Calloway and recorded as leader for Blue Note '44. Big bands were dying; 'swingtet' dates allowed 'streamlined septets of three horns and four rhythm that could cleverly deliver the sound and feel of modern swing and still allow room for some of the innovations of the day' (Michael Cuscuna). Blue Note issued only four albums on 78s (with cover artwork, photos, etc): one was Quebec's. He made a session for Savoy and five Blue Note sessions '44--6 of which the first incl. 'Blue Harlem', one of the biggest Blue Note hits of the era. A few records with Calloway, Lucky Millinder, backing vocalists '49-- 53; but didn't record again until '59 for several reasons: little work available, personal struggle with heroin addiction, and Quebec himself had helped to change the music business: as close personal friend of Blue Note's Alfred Lion, Ike urged him to listen to Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, etc (wrote 'Suburban Eyes' for Monk's first Blue Note date), helping Blue Note to become premier jazz label of '50s--60s. Fortunately he came back to play on ten Blue Note LPs '59--62: dates with Sonny Clark, vocalist Dodo Green, Jimmy Smith, and his own albums: With A Song In My Heart, Congo Lament, Heavy Soul, Blue And Sentimental (reissued '84 by EMI; also plays piano on two tracks), It Might As Well Be Spring, Soul Samba; Easy Living '62 was finally issued '87 in its intended form, a bluesy set with Stanley Turrentine on second tenor, Clark on piano, Benny Green, Milt Hinton, Art Blakey. He died of lung cancer. Limited editions on Mosaic compiled the complete swingtets and The Complete Blue Note 45 Sessions, 26 quartet tracks '59--62 made for juke boxes, with organists incl. Sir Charles Thompson, Edwin Swanson, Earl Vandyke (d 18 Sep. '92, Detroit).