Vinyl grab bags from our June 8 sale of Black Jazz legend Henry Franklin’s record collection
Jazz bassist, bandleader, mentor, and alumnus of the legendary Black Jazz label Henry Franklin is hosted a pop up record shop at Rappcats last month, selling his record collection. Franklin has been playing and innovating the jazz idiom for over six decades in Los Angeles, and the world. He’s a living treasure who has transformed with jazz, and who issued two of the Spiritual Jazz movements best albums: “The Skipper” and “The Skipper At Home,” in the early to mid 1970s.
The records on offer are those he made, including albums on the Black Jazz imprint, and those that inspired him. These are records that Franklin played on, learned from and admired, and while many are well worn from repeated plays over a fifty year span, many are in pristine shape. These are records that Franklin carried with him on his travels, and are records he’s now offering to a new home, with a deep provenance and an undeniable influence.
A bit about Henry Franklin’s deep career in jazz.
A child from a musical family – his father was a recording jazz musician and band leader – Franklin was in high school in Los Angeles when he played with his first professional band – the Roy Ayers Latin Jazz Quinte – in the late 1950s. In the 1960s he started working with West Coast bop legends Harold Land and Hamptown Hawes.”I was influenced very much by Hawes and Land – I still am,” Franklin reflects. “Those guys are great heroes to me.”
The 1960s saw LA’s cool jazz scene heat up, and Franklin giggled from Adams Boulevard to Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards to across Central Avenue with the likes of Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins and Scott LaFaro. In 1968 he decamped to the East Coast with Willie Bobo for a one-year tour. On his off days he gigged with Archie Sheep and picked up a gig with South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. He collaborated with Masekela on the hit “Grazing in the Grass,” for which he earned his first gold record. (His second would come later, for the Stevie Wonder album The Secret Life of Plants.)
He played with Gene Harris as one of the Three Sounds, recording for the Blue Note label, as well Freddie Hubbard and Count Basie in the early 1970s. As jazz took a political turn and embraced funk and themes of Black American empowerment, Franklin signed on with Gene Russell for his Black Jazz label, issuing two of the label’s most loved albums under his name, and sessioning on others. The late 1970s saw his stellar Tribal Dance album released on Catalyst Records.
He continues to gig and to produce artists on his SP Label to keep his and the world’s love of jazz alive. “I strive and work hard to do the best for Jazz,” Franklin states. “It’s America’s only art form.”