Obsessions may only be another word for looking at something in depth. It is also the name of our new column. The idea is to focus on an artist or theme that is still significant but not much dwelt upon these days outside the world of collectors and the deeply entrenched anorak tendency. To begin with we are looking at the work of John Handy.
The way in was recently listening by chance to Projections although originally our interest was piqued digging the earlier Recorded Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival as the initial spark when first discovering Handy in the 1990s (being a babe in arms in the 60s when the saxist was in his peak certainly a case of being born too late). First things first. Play the Spotify playlist as you read and you can journey through Handy as you scroll down.
Handy, 88, has lived on the West Coast of the USA since the 1960s. In his early career he was well known for his close playing association with Charles Mingus.
Handy made jazz history with Mingus playing a tenor solo characterised by a flutter tongue tremolo on Lester Young homage 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' that rang out on Mingus 1959 classic Ah Um. The Dallas-born Handy's musical ears encompassed flamenco inspirations on his famous and Grammy nominated Monterey jazz festival 1966 album. And he could go funky and swing just as easily also experimenting with Eastern styles on such records as 1976's Karuna Supreme that saw Handy collaborating with sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and the iconic tabla master Zakir Hussain. Embracing commercial music on the toe-tapping Hard Work is just one more glimpse at an intriguing musical personality whose records remain as compelling as ever. Become obsessed with his sound today. That would make perfect sense.
John Handy photo: Frank Stewart