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St. Louis Blues By Johnny Lytle

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Uploaded on Dec 31, 2010

Absolutely THE definitive rendition of this jazz classic. Johnny Lytle was a jazz musician who began playing the drums and piano at a very early age. Before studying music in earnest he was a boxer, and was a successful Golden Gloves champion. During the late '50s Lytle landed jobs as a drummer for Ray Charles, Jimmy Witherspoon and Gene Ammons. He switched from drums to vibraphone and toured with organist Hiram "Boots" Johnson from 1955 to 1957. He formed his first group in '57 with saxophonist Boots Johnson, organist Milton Harris and drummer William "Peppy" Hinnant. He impressed the Grammy award-winning producer Orrin Keepnews who signed him to his Jazzland label in 1960. He found success early in his career with chart-topping albums like "A Groove", "The Loop", and "Moonchild." Although considered one of the top vibes players, Lional Hampton said Lytle was "the greatest vibes player in the world." He was also a songwriter, his own hits including "The Loop," "The Man," "Lela," "Selim," and the classic "The Village Caller". Lytle recorded more than 30 albums for various jazz labels including Tuba, Jazzland, Solid State and Muse. He performed & recorded with greats Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson, Bobby Timmons & Roy Ayers. He also has featured his son, Marcel Lytle, on several recordings as a vocalist and drummer. Lytle was such an admirer of the music of Miles Davis that he wrote "Selim" (Miles spelled backwards) in his honor. He never recorded with any of the major record labels which could be why he never gained the status of a jazz icon like some of his peers. In addition to his musicianship, his gregarious personality made him a popular attraction on the jazz circuit. He was known for great hand speed and showmanship (nicknamed "Fast Hands") and could always keep the attention of an audience. Lytle's his last performance was with the Springfield (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra in his hometown on November 18, 1995. This selection first appeared in his album "Happy Ground" released in 1989, and is included in numerous compilations.

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