[Dixielandjazz] Ace Tesone - Mel Torme - Philladelphia Jazz

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Jan 15 15:36:17 PST 2005

I posted this on another chat list and then thought some on this list might
enjoy it. It was an answer to a question asked on that list about Barbone
Street's Bass Player, the venerable Ace Tesone.

Steve Barbone

>Can you ask him if he performed on Mel's other album from 1962, "Comin' Home
>Baby!"? There are no credits on the CD other than arranger (Shorty Rogers) and
>conductor (Claus Ogerman).

No, the "Live The Red Hill Inn" album is the only one Ace is on with Torme.
In the 1950s/60s etc, Ace was THE premier bassist in Philly Jazz circles and
gigged regularly around town. Only Charlie Ventura was salesman enough to
convince him to do some road gigs.

Ace's main gig was the Rendezvous Room of the Hotel Senator downtown, a top
jazz venue. Just about all of the top jazz musicians played there and when
they did, if they didn't have a rhythm section, Ace would get the bass gig.
As a result he played with Clifford Brown, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Kai &
J.J., Billie Holiday, Max Roach, Buddy Rich, Barrett Deems, Muggsy Spanier
and a whole host of others, much to our envy.

Ace missed out on backing Charlie Parker twice, because he was on the road
with Ventura when Bird came to town.

He also played on the third floor of Music City, a music store downtown. The
owner, Ellis Tollin (jazz drummer) converted it to a jazz club (no booze)
for kids under 21 who could not get into regular jazz clubs in those years
because of the alcohol blue laws. Ellis convinced just about all of the
stars who played in the area to appear there before their main gigs. E.G. 6
PM to 8 PM, FREE. Just about all did. (notable exception Miles Davis). Even
Basie brought his entire band there one night.

Tollin felt that the kids should have a place to hear the music. He charged
50 cents admission to cover paying his rhythm section (as well as other
personnel) which was usually Ace, Ellis and a piano player like Sam Dockery.
They all worked cheap to help Ellis.  Beautiful man, beautiful idea. Gave
the kids their own jazz club to keep the music alive. It was a break even
deal. (We should be doing that now)

They also held jam sessions there. Clifford Brown was a great friend of
Ellis'. He and Ritchie Powell appeared one night at a jam session as a
favor. Ace played bass that night. Powell, his wife and Brownie then left
around midnight for Chicago by car. Powell's wife drove. She was a fairly
inexperienced driver and in a rainstorm along the Pennsylvania Turnpike
between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, in the wee hours of the morning, she lost
control. Brownie and Ritchie Powell were thought to have been asleep at the
time. The car crashed, and all were killed.

That session was secretly recorded by an employee, and not commercially sold
until many years later. It was Brownie's last gig and last recording. You
can still find it now. Ace's name is misspelled "Tisone".

Max Roach never forgave himself for Brownie's death because Roach used to
drive everywhere with him. Brown & Roach had just finished a gig in Philly
the day before when Roach left. Brownie had stayed an extra day to be at the
jam session. 

Ace and everybody who was there that night were stunned to hear the news of
Brownie's death the next morning. Everyone who knew Brownie, admired him
greatly. Not only was he a genius musician, but he was the nicest man you
could ever hope to meet, or be associated with. No bad habits at all,
cheerful demeanor, loved kids, loved his family, genius at math as well as
music, etc., etc., etc.

Only the good die young.

Steve Barbone

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list