Sunday, February 25, 2018

John Malveaux: Before Quincy Jones studied composition with Nadia Boulanger, he baby sat for Robert "Bumps" Blackwell of the "Bumps Big Band"

Bumps Blackwell

John Malveaux of 

Standing on the shoulders of Giants is a phrase often repeated during African American Heritage Month. In an blog of February 23, 2018, I asserted that Quincy Jones is the GREATEST of ALL TIMES producer in multiple genres and he studied classical composition with Nadia Boulanger in France. Quincy’s foundation began much earlier as a teen. “Q” baby sat for Robert “Bumps” Blackwell in exchange for the opportunity to study “Bumps” Big Band charts. “Bumps” Big Band backed Billie Holiday and other notable jazz artists. “Bumps” later became the architect of Little Richard’s career. Thereafter, he produced, perhaps, the most significant record in Pop music history during the period of segregated radio air play called “Race Music”.  Seeking to transition Sam Cooke from gospel to poplar music, “Bumps” was fired by the head of Specialty Records for using strings and “White” background singers during a recording session of “YOU SEND ME”. His idea/concept was antithetical to existing practices and accepted logic. “Bumps” committed belief in integrating or blending separate and unequal music concepts led him to purchase the master recording from Art Rupe by assigning future royalty income from Little Richard record sales to Rupe. “Bumps” recording of Sam Cooke ‘YOU SEND ME” eventually became the first recording in music history to cross over from segregated (Black) radio stations to achieve No. 1 POP radio (White).

American composer Roy Harris also studied with Nadia Boulanger in France. “Bumps” temporarily lived in the home of Roy Harris as a guest and provided some music services while Roy Harris was composing his 10th Symphony. Approximately two years ago or less, I contacted “Q” and asked if he remembered when I introduced him to Johana Harris (wife of Roy Harris) at “Bumps” funeral in Los Angeles. “Q” said he did not attend “Bumps” funeral. Although I was certain of his attendance and the introduction to Johana, I later contacted “Bumps” daughter, Kelly, in New Orleans and she confirmed that “Q” attended “Bumps” funeral. Apparently “Q” memory has understandably declined but his achievements are recorded for posterity. “Q” is standing on the shoulders of "Bumps", Nadia Boulanger, Frank Sinatra, and others. I am also standing on the shoulders of “Bumps” Roy Harris and others and share with you “Bumps” important message  “Blacks in All Music” instead of the limited misconception of “Black Music”.   

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