Trumpeter Ted Curson died one year ago today—November 4, 2012. Without being a name that leaps immediately to casual jazz fans’ lips, he had an illustrious career, recording quite a bit as a leader but also participating in some of the most important avant-garde groups of the 1960s. Curson appeared on some of Cecil Taylor‘s earliest recordings, playing on 1959’s Love for Sale and a 1961 track that was originally released under Gil Evans‘ name on the album Into the Hot, and later combined with a session by the Roswell Rudd Sextet on the 1998 CD Mixed. He was a member of the final incarnation of the New York Contemporary Five, alongside Archie Shepp, and also played on Shepp’s 1965 album Fire Music. In 1960, he was a member of Charles Mingus‘s working band (alongside Eric Dolphy and drummer Dannie Richmond) and can be heard on the albums Mingus, Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus, Mingus Revisited (aka Pre-Bird), and Mingus at Antibes.
Here’s some footage of Curson, filmed for French TV in 1973; he’s backed by pianist Georges Arvanitas, bassist Jacky Samson, and drummer Charles Saudrais. Here’s “LSD Takes a Holiday”:
And here’s a Spotify playlist featuring tracks from some of the aforementioned sideman gigs, as well as a few tunes from his solo albums: