Friday, January 19, 2018

Montreal Jazz Great 'Steep' Wade's 100th Birthday

Today (January 19, 2019) would have been Montreal Jazz great “Steep” Wade's 100th birthday.

From Burgundy Jazz:
Alto saxophonist, pianist (19 January, 1918 – 6 December, 1953) Harold Gordon Pemberton Wade (known as “Steep” it is believed for his high forehead) learned alto saxophone and piano as a child both on his own and some studies with Milton Smythe.
He began playing professionally in 1937, playing saxophone with Myron Sutton's Canadian Ambassadors and his smaller ensembles. In the 1940s, he began playing piano more, including with the bands of trumpeter Jimmy Jones and the saxophonist Lloyd Duncan who led the Seven Sharp Swingsters at Café St. Michel.
He remained as pianist at Café St. Michel when Louis Metcalf came to the to lead the International Band and introduce bebop to Canadian audiences. Wade became a friend and mentor to Oscar Peterson, who regularly dropped in and jammed with the band. He was a member of Wilkie Wilkinson’s Boptet which made Canada’s first known bebop recordings.
Wade was one of the pianists who played alongside Charlie Parker at Chez Paree when he came to Montreal for his famed February 1953 concerts. That spring, he was with Kenny Alexander’s All-Stars at the Montmartre Café along with Buddy Jordan, Leroy Mason, Bob Rudd and Walter Bacon. Tragically, he died not long afterwards from alcohol- or heroin-related causes.
Here's a video with Steep on piano:

Links: Charlie Parker, Video above courtesy of Antonio LucenteMore 100th Birthday Celebrations

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Research based on Billboard magazine indicates that there is a great possibility that the first bebop recordings by a Canadian group in Canada are actually "Bop Off!"/"That's My Bop" by the Ray Norris Quintet (Monogram 139), released ca. mid-July 1949.