Let’s face it, if it weren’t for fathers, most of us wouldn’t be around.
We’ve all had them, some of us are them, and some of us fathers have been called a “Mother.”
Having said all that, the sign of a healthy culture is the paternal authority, gently guiding, protecting and teaching his family. The bible in Micah 4:6 even states that a society shows revival when “the heart of the turn to their children and the hearts of the children return to their father.” It is the fragility of this dynamic in American society that causes so many of our current problems. But, instead of focusing on that aspect, let’s spotlight the good influence so many jazz fathers have been to their kids, passing on their trade to a second, and sometimes even third generation.
Here is a list of jazz fathers and their respective sons and daughters. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he’ll not depart far from it.
1) Ornette Coleman-Denardo Coleman: The free jazz icon got his son in the band as a young child, drumming away and raising a few eyebrows. Now it makes complete sense.
2) Jackie McLean-Renee McLean: The stepson shows that sometimes it’s more environmental than genetic.
3) Jimmy Rowles-Stacey Rowles: The elegiac pianist left us with a warm toned trumpeter
4) Dave Brubeck-Darius, Dan, Chris and Matthew Brubeck: Old dad performed a grand slam here, and the boys have put out some impressive material on their own.
5) Albert Ammons-Gene Ammons: The boogie woogie pianist produced one of the warmest sounding tenors of all time. Something was definitely in the family stew here
6) John Coltrane-Ravi Coltrane: The peculiar thing here is that the son essentially never knew his father, let alone having a first hand experience of his tutelage. Only after some soul and family searching did the young alto-soprano saxist come to terms with his lineage, and we’re better for it.
7) Ellis Marsalis-Wynton, Branford, Jason, Delfeayo. Another father that hit for the cycle with the older one being one of jazz’s spokesmen.
8) Duke Ellington-Mercer Ellington: Son and trumpeter Mercer took over dad’s band for awhile and also wrote stuff like “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be.” With a dad that toured with his orchestra 50+ weeks a year, being in the horn section was probably the only way to see him!
9) Don Redman-Dewey Redman-Joshua Redman: Here’s a three generation family. Alto saxist/arranger/bandleader Don was a bud of Satchmo, while son Dewey was in the avant-garde. Grandson Joshua splits the difference with advanced mainstream on a warm tenor.
10) Gerald Wilson-Anthony Wilson: The famed LA based bandleader who started with Lunceford and Ellington gave us a famed LA based guitarist who works with everyone from Krall to Peyroux.
11) Dick Nash-Ted Nash: first call studio guy gave us alto saxist who spends most time with JALCO.
12) Bucky Pizzarelli-John/Martin Pizzarelli: Not only does the father get the sons in the business, but John even takes the same instrument (with one more string). Keep it in the family!
13) Miles Davis-Erin Davis: Son Erin not only keeps an eye on dad’s estate (just what DO you call the son of “The Prince of Darkness”?), but he does some percussion work and wrote stuff for the old man.
14) Johnny Otis-Johnny Otis: Just goes to show that not all Greeks had their sons work in the kitchens at their diners. The Godfather of R&B had a son that was an impressive soul man in his own right. Yasou!
15) Larry Coryell-Julian Coryell: six strings run in the family with the progressive jazz guitarist going mainstream begetting a progressive jazz guitarist going mainstream.