Chicago has long been known as home for the blues and this musical form is always evident in the work of Julian Clifford Mance who was born in that city on October 10, 1928. Ralph Gleason, the noted writer, emphasised this when he wrote "he is so steeped in the blues tradition that he carries it along everywhere...his solos are beautifully constructed, rhythmically as well as melodically."
Junior Mance's early experience included periods with tenor saxophonists Gene Ammons and Lester Young before he joined Cannonball Adderley's first quintet in 1956. After two year stints with Dizzy Gillespie and the Johnny Griffin - Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Quintet, he formed his own trio in the spring of 1961.
For two years this trio toured as back-up group for vocalist Joe Williams, but since that time Junior Mance has enjoyed considerable success on his own. In the early 1970's, he and bassist Martin Rivera began a partnership which lasted until the late 1980's. For most of that time the duo worked together at such New York venues as The Village Gate, the Knickerbocker and Zinno's as well as becoming a regular at Toronto's Cafe des Copains.
As a veteran performer, Junior Mance has seen his career expand considerably in the last decade. He often performs in New York with baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley and has travelled the world as a member of Lionel Hampton's "Golden Men of Jazz". He is a regular visitor to Japan as one of ten pianists in the annual "100 Golden Fingers" tour and his duets with fellow "Blues Brother" Ray Bryant consistently break up the house.
Junior Mance can now be heard on a wide variety of recordings. He has a solo piano recording on Sackville ("Junior Mance Special") and a 1994 performance from The Montreal Bistro is being released this summer as "Jubilation". There's a quintet recording of Dizzy Gillespie tunes with an all-star Canadian group from Sackville and he has trio CD's available on Chiaroscuro and Enja. His most recent CD as a leader is a concert recording with tenor saxophonist Houston Person for Enja.
The uniqueness of Junior Mance's pianistic approach brings instant listener identification upon hearing him. He is a musician who defines what jazz music is about.
|Recommended recordings:||"At Town Hall"||Enja EJA-CD-9085|
|"Blue Mance"||Chiaroscuro CR(D)-331|
|"Here 'Tis"||Sackville SK CD2-3050|
|"Junior Mance Special"||Sackville SK CD2-3043|
|"Jubilation"||Sackville SK CD2-2046|
|"For Dancers Only"||Sackville SK CD2-3031|