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Cal Massey

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There's some doubt about the birth date of composer and trumpeter Cal Massey, with some accounts having him born on January 11, 1928. But there's no question about his ability as a composer; Massey wrote some poignant and compelling material, and had works recorded by John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan, Philly Joe Jones, and Archie Shepp, among others. Some Massey numbers that were cut included "Bakai" by Coltrane, "Fiesta" by Jones, "Assunta, Father and Son" by Hubbard, "Message from Trane" by McLean, and "Cry of My People" by Shepp. Massey studied trumpet with Freddie Webster and worked in big bands led by Jay McShann, Jimmy Heath, and Billie Holiday. Massey then opted to concentrate on composing and didn't do much playing during the rest of his career, although he did lead an ensemble that included Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner, and Tootie Heath in the late '50s. This group played Massey's compositions, and had periodic guest appearances from Coltrane and Donald Byrd. Massey worked and toured with Archie Shepp from 1969 until his death in 1972, and he also worked with Romulus Franceschini, co-founding the RoMas Orchestra, which also performed Massey compositions. His musical play Lady Day: A Musical Tragedy was Massey's final work. The Shepp albums Attica Blues, Things Have Got to Change, and Cry of My People contain several Massey compositions and there is a Candid CD, Blues to Coltrane, featuring rare examples of Massey's fine trumpet playing. ~ Ron Wynn


11 January 1928 in Philadelphia, PA

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