The Genius of: Chuck Wayne





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Published on Oct 27, 2012

Chuck Wayne was born Charles Jagelka in New York City on 27 February 1923 to a Czechoslovakian family. In his youth, he became an expert on the banjo, mandolin, and balalaika. In the early 1940s he began playing jazz on 52nd Street and in the Village. After serving two years in the Army, he joined Joe Marsala's band at The Hickory House in 1944. Wayne was galvanized after hearing Charlie Parker at the Three Deuces, and focused on playing bebop. At one point, frustrated with the difficulty of getting the guitar to swing with the bop feel he wanted, Wayne nearly switched to saxophone; but ultimately, he found his sound and his style. Bill Crow writes:
He was one of the earliest guitarists to learn the bebop style. Chuck recorded with Dizzy Gillespie in 1945, on two sides that helped spread the bebop revolution, "Groovin' High" and "Blue 'n' Boogie."
Wayne replaced guitarist Billy Bauer in Woody Herman's First Herd in 1946. He quickly won a more visible role for the guitar in the band, and was featured in exchanges with the likes of Stan Getz and Sonny Berman. Contemporary reviewers regarded him highly.
In his heyday, he worked with many great performers, including:
Vocalists Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand
Bandleaders Coleman Hawkins, Jack Teagarden, Dizzy Gillespie, Claude Thornhill, Lester Young, Wingy Manone, Slam Stewart, and Tadd Dameron
An endless list of soloists including Zoot Sims, Brew Moore, Jo Jones, Joe Marsala, Billy Taylor, George Duvivier, and Red Norvo.
In his later career, he was also noted for duo performances in the New York City area with Warren Chiasson, Joe Puma, and Tal Farlow. His style matured, intensified, and made increasing use of contrapuntal improvisation, an eye-opening experience for local guitarists. A generation of performers were heavily influenced by Wayne's playing and instruction -- especially during his thoughtful later years.
Wayne's discography is impressive, but his work remains relatively obscure. He was instead best known for consistently hot live performances, playing regular gigs on the Manhattan jazz scene -- including a long stint at Gregory's on the upper East Side. Sadly, little of this music was recorded; the vitality of live improvisation is often missing from studio recordings of the era. Like many other jazz musicians whose careers took them in and out of the limelight (Tal Farlow and Sonny Rollins come to mind), Wayne was frustrated by the music business, and its ephemeral crowns of success. - Wiki... Here is one of those rare live recordings: from May 13, 1978...rescued from an old cassette, featuring friend and fellow educator Dr. Peter Westbrook on flute, Scott Usedom on drums and Gregory Pollari on bass, an original composition by Chuck..."Traveling"...

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