Earl Washington (musician)

Earl "The Ghost" Washington (April 3, 1921 in Chicago, Illinois – June 18, 1975 in Evergreen Park, Illinois) was a jazz pianist.[1]

Earl Washington

Early lifeEdit

Earl Edward Washington was born, the third child (two older sisters before him), on Sunday, April 3, 1921, in the Prairie Avenue District neighborhood on the near Southeast Side of Chicago. His parents experienced hard economic times in the pre- and post-Depression era, moving their ever-expanding family to the small neighborhood of Morgan Park where they could afford a home. Washington attended Washburn High School, also on the South side of Chicago, that his mother enrolled him in due to his interest in "art".

As a young boy, Washington wanted to be a jazz pianist, but his mother wanted him to study classical music, as she had done as a child herself. She arranged private classical piano lessons with the family's music teacher Dr. Walter Dellers (Professor of Music at the Chicago Academy of Music). Dellers advised her not to change his eye–hand coordination that was so envied by most ragtime musicians of the era.

In the summer of 1938, Washington competed in the Chicago Golden Gloves boxing tournament. It is unknown if he won the event at his 160-pound weight class.

After dropping out of high school in his junior year, he worked as a laborer at Inland Steel located in nearby East Chicago, Indiana.

During World War II, Washington enlisted in the United States Navy as an Apprentice Seaman II; emphasis as a musician (MU SEA). He joined the Illinois Great Lakes Navy Orchestra from 1943-45.

After time spent in the Navy, he attended both the Boston and Chicago Conservatories of Music. He joined the Chicago Musicians' Union Local 10-208 on November 15, 1945.


Washington joined the Red Saunders Band in 1949 at the popular nightclub Club DeLisa, where he remained until the mid 1950s. On leaving Saunders' band, Washington worked in the recording studios of Chicago, Detroit and New York City. He wrote music for Motown artists and recorded scores and jingles with Chicago’s jazz pioneer/innovator Quincy Jones and nationally known Chicago disc jockey Herb Kent on Chicago's WVON Radio.

While representing the Motown jazz imprint and releasing a couple LPs on its sub-label Workshop Jazz Records, Washington worked as a featured artist at Chicago's Blue Note Club, the Gaslight Club and the Playboy Club.

Before his death, Washington worked at The Inn Place, taught private jazz-piano lessons and lectured on "The History of Jazz" at Indiana University.

Washington's nickname, "The Ghost", grew out of his light-skin complexion.

- Johnny Pate wrote the liner note for Washington's Workshop released LP "Reflections."

"There is much that can be said about a serious musician, and Earl Washington is a very serious musician. He is the kind of musician who spends practically all of his time working on his music in one way or another. When he is not practicing at the piano, he’s writing either original works, or arrangements. In his spare time he listens to some of his favorites, which include Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Quincy Jones, plus contemporary composers such as Ravel, Stravinsky, and Bernstein.

“Earl evidently does not believe in the biblical admonition, ‘Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doesth,’ at least not when he’s playing piano. For on ‘It Ain’t Necessary So’ he uses both hands beautifully and each definitely knows what the other is doing. It is the left hand playing that pleasant intro leading into the gently rollicking syncopation that is the mood of the ‘preaching’ right hand throughout the recording.

"At present Earl is engage in composing a suite entitled, “Omen Portend.” This work will feature the piano with orchestral background. He is in hopes of recording it in the very near future.

“Reflections,” the title tune, is a blues with a far-eastern tint. Earl seems to be remembering, or reflecting over, if you please, a trip through valleys, hills and streams in some far away land of a strange name. He seems filled with awe – and beautifully projects that feeling to the listener. Vernel Fournier (Drummer) seems delighted with the trip, eager to move around that next rhythmical corner. Israel Crosby (Bassist) seems to have been there before; he moves ably, steadily, surely throughout. “Reflections” is a musical journey the listener will want to make again many times.

"Mr. Washington’s treatment of “After Hours” is quite unique, due to the fact that he first does a rendition quite close to the original Avery Parrish version. Then he expresses his personal feeling for this."

- Mr. Pate worked as a Pianist, Bassist; an Arranger of Production Numbers for the Club Delisa (in the 1950s); a Composer, Conductor, and Producer is an important figure in the evolution of music on the Chicago music scene. His name appears in the credits of classic hits by Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. He also acts on Okeh Records and Workshop Jazz label; wrote and scored “Shaft In Africa,” which became a theme backdrop for Jay Z’ 2006 platinum award winning CD Show Me What You Got.

Personal lifeEdit

Washington was married to Dorothy Jean for 20 years. They raised six sons in their Chicago south side community home in Washington Heights.

Washington died of a heart attack on June 18, 1975 in Evergreen Park.


Earl Washington, a Career

The majority of Washington's recordings were with big bands.

From 1947–1954 Washington was part of Red Saunders Band at the Club Delisa.

Washington also made several recordings with his band “Earl Washington, All Star Jazz” (1954-1964).

Year Recorded Title Genre Label
1949 Love Me Baby Big Band Atlantic
1949 I'll Get Along Somehow Big Band Atlantic
1949 I'll Get Along Somehow, Part 2 Big Band Atlantic
1949 Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe Big Band Atlantic
1949 Rocking Blues Big Band Atlantic
1950 Baby I Don’t Love You Anymore Traditional Jazz Theron
1952 Hambone Crossover Jazz OKeh
1952 Summertime Traditional Jazz Blue Lake
1952 Riverboat Traditional Jazz Blue Lake
1954 Blue Mambo Crossover Jazz Theron
1954 Forward Blow Crossover Jazz Theron
1955 I've Got News for You Crossover Jazz Theron
1955 Grand, Nice, Swell Crossover Jazz Theron
1955 Whole Lotta Money Traditional Jazz Theron
1955 I'm Just a Fool Traditional Jazz Theron
1955 Cool Mambo Crossover Jazz Theron
1955 Love Crossover Jazz Theron
1955 Remainder Crossover Jazz Theron
1955 Baia Traditional Jazz Theron
1955 Don't Traditional Jazz Theron
1955 What Jolly Folks Traditional Jazz Theron
1955 Saving My Love Traditional Jazz Theron
1955 I Haven't Got the Heart Traditional Jazz Theron
1958 Miserlou Surf Checker
1958 Wolf Call Surf Checker
1962 Opus No. 3 Traditional Jazz Workshop
1962 Taste Time Traditional Jazz Workshop
1962 The Swinging Jesters Blues Traditional Jazz Workshop
1962 March Lightly Traditional Jazz Workshop
1962 Tony's Tune Traditional Jazz Workshop
1962 The Ghost Traditional Jazz Workshop
1962 Blues in the Night Blue Note Argo
1962 Stella by Starlight Blue Note Argo
1962 The Way You Look Tonight Blue Note Argo
1962 Through for the Night Blue Note Argo
1962 Stardust Blue Note Argo
1962 Night and Day Blue Note Argo
1962 Laughing Tonight Blue Note Argo
1963 Reflections Latin Jazz Workshop
1963 Trees Latin Jazz Workshop
1963 Lover Latin Jazz Workshop
1963 Cuban Carnival Latin Jazz Workshop
1963 After Hour Latin Jazz Workshop
1963 It Ain't Necessarily So Latin Jazz Workshop
1966 Thoroughly Modern Millie Blue Note Decca
1966 The Tapioca Blue Note Decca
1966 Do It Again Blue Note Decca
1966 Poor Butterfly Blue Note Decca
1966 Jimmy Blue Note Decca
1966 Stumbling Blue Note Decca
1966 Rose of Washington Square Blue Note Decca
1966 Jazz Baby Blue Note Decca
1966 Baby Face Blue Note Decca
1966 The Jewish Wedding Song Blue Note Decca
1966 Charmaine Blue Note Decca
1966 Japanese Sandman Blue Note Decca
1967 Clarinet Marmalade Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 Canal Street Blues Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 Bill Bailey Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 Just A Little While To Stay Here Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 Georgia On My Mind Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 The World I Waiting For The Sunrise Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 Lass Trombone Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 Georgia Camp Meeting Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 Tiger Rag Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 Shake That Thing Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1967 That’s A Plenty Dixieland Jazz LTD.
1996 MISIRLOU Re-Released Surf Hipo


External linksEdit