So, while I still am going to do a post about Louis Smith's trumpet at a later date, and now also Joe Newman's trumpet to boot, for this post I am going to discuss pianist Jodie Christian, and in another saxophonist Lin Halliday. After learning about them I purchased (used in all cases so at great prices) four discs for each of them, which means that I have 8 recordings with Christian in addition to the Dexter Gordon and Louis Smith releases I already had; and all of the Lin Halliday sets as a leader according to Allmusic.com. I do have two other recordings of Halliday -- "Scotch and Milk" (Delmark 1996) by Cecil Payne, and "Stablemates"(Delmark 1995), a date he co-led with Eric Alexander.
According to those in the know, Jodie Christian (1932 - 2012) could play blues, swing, bop, or ballads, and was a creative improviser.
He was a revered "hometown" pianist who chose to stay, and in 2012 multiple obituaries of him identified his as one of Chicago's most beloved artists whose modesty kept him from attaining the fame he deserved. He did not record an album under his own name until 1992 though he was widely known as one of the few pianists who could play in any style, and demonstrated that on recordings with the avant garde like Roscoe Mitchell and on bop outings with Dexter Gordon, among others. Christian was one of the co-founders in 1965 of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) along with Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve McCall, and Phil Cohran, and he and Abrams were part of the Experimental Band. Christian was house pianist at the Jazz Showcase Club for a long time and there played with the likes of Eddie Harris, Stan Getz, Gordon, Gene Ammons, Mitchell, and Buddy Montgomery.
Christian was admired by all of those who played with him but did not start as a leader on recordings until he was 60. According to the Chicago Tribune, "he never attained the fame his work deserved, and this was largely by design." To the Chicago Jazz Magazine in 1979, Christian said "I function better as a sideman rather than as a leader. I enjoy getting behind the soloist and pushing him."
Christian had an enormous impact on Chicago jazz for over a half century. According to The Examiner, "He exemplified the bold and brawny Chicago approach to mainstream jazz. [Later] as a sideman for several of saxophonist Eddie Harris’s projects he contributed to the jazz-rock fusion scene in Chicago." He also showed everyone his chops as a bop and hard pop plyer and avant-gardist, as "he unassumedly mentored two generations of younger musicians who have in turn made significant contributions to the Chicago scene". His broad background led him to back tenor saxman Von Freeman on several Steeplechase recordings, but also to backing Louis Smith as well on several, and finally to his own debut as leader on Delmark.
"Soul Fountain" (Delmark 1998), his fifth outing features Art Porter on saxes and Odies Williams on trumpet and is another hit, with a nice balance of romantic ballads and upbeat bop tunes. And finally, there is "Reminiscing" (Delmark 2001) a piano trio disc with Dennis Carroll on bass and Tony Walton on drums. Its a look back to a fine career, and in the liner notes Christian tells why each song is important to him. "Embraceable You" was the first standard that he ever learned, he started playing Jobim's "How Insensitive" after he heard Ahmad Jamal play it, and "Love Walked In" and "It's Good to Have You Near" are songs dedicated to Andre Previn. But each is played according to his sytlings and taste, and each is a gem.