Earl Washington (musician)
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.
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.
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).
|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||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||What Jolly Folks||Traditional Jazz||Theron|
|1955||Saving My Love||Traditional Jazz||Theron|
|1955||I Haven't Got the Heart||Traditional Jazz||Theron|
|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||Night and Day||Blue Note||Argo|
|1962||Laughing Tonight||Blue Note||Argo|
|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||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||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.|
- Media related to Earl Washington at Wikimedia Commons
- Billboard - Motown Launches New Jazz Series
- Billboard - Miserlou Checker 905
- Billboard - Cutting tapes at Universal Studios
- Billboard - Motown in Brussels
- Motown Junkies, "Because It's What's In The Grooves That Count." Earl Washington All Stars: “Opus No. 3″