If you've never heard of tenor sax player Hadley Caliman, you're forgiven; I lived and worked in Los Angeles for more than 35 years, and I didn't encounter him....and that's where he made his name from the 1950s through the '70s.
As soon as he graduated from high school, he began to play in numerous jazz clubs located along Central Avenue. His idol was Dexter Gordon, with whom he studied, and Caliman played so much like him that he got the nickname "Little Dex."Caliman worked with some quite famous jazz artists during his career, including Mongo Santamaria, Art Farmer, Gerald Wilson and Don Ellis.
So, why didn't he become a jazz household name?
The same reason that so many musicians during that era got sidetracked: narcotics.
Back in those days, users were put behind bars; at one time, Caliman's jail-mates included Miles Davis and Art Blakey. Caliman was so hooked that he began to steal to support his habit,and that led to incarceration in San Quentin and Chino. It took him 20 years to break the habit, overcome his reputation as a "druggie" and make it back into the jazz mainstream.
As a result, he faded from memory.
This album, the first Caliman has made in years, features a very nice quintet. He's joined by Thomas Marriott on trumpet, Joe Locke on vibes, Phil Sparks on bass, and Jo La Barbara on drums. The CD includes nine tracks; four were written by Caliman, and one by Marriott. The rest are covers of old jazz standards.
The genre is bop, but - because Caliman's style was relatively soft and lyrical - everything swings nicely. You won't hear honking or screaming; it's just nice, relaxing jazz.
Caliman was 76 when this album was made: further proof that some of the oldsters still swing.