Song of the Day: Gary Bartz “Celestial Blues”
I grew up with two parents who even though they were big music fans they didn’t really like or get jazz. I got into jazz slowly with “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck and “In a Silent Way” by Miles Davis serving as my gateway drugs. Through college I started buying jazz LPs here and there not really knowing what I was buying but taking chances on $3 used LPs and CDs. Then in the early 90’s I discovered Jazz Dance Classics Volume One put out by the Costa Mesa, CA based Luv N’ Haight Records. This record changed everything for me. Rock and blues records suddenly took a back seat to jazz and funky soul. The first track on that compilation was “Celestial Blues” by Gary Bartz and to this day its one of my all time favorite songs (jazz or otherwise).
Gary Bartz was born in Baltimore in 1940. Bartz’ father was a prominent jazz club owner in Baltimore and the young Gary began playing sax in his dad’s club by the time he was 14. Bartz’s big break came when he filled in with Art Blakey‘s band at a gig at his father’s club. Blakey had long been a supporter of young and up and coming jazz musicians, frequently employing them in iterations of his famous Jazz Messengers band. Bartz never looked back following that initial gig with Blakey, going on to a long and storied career in jazz. Subsequently, Bartz played with Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Jackie McLean, Pharaoh Sanders and other jazz titans. Bartz is still very much active and frequently gigs around the DC-Baltimore Beltway.
This track was recorded in 1970 and features the great Andy Bey on vocals. This track is deep, spiritual, funky and just plain great. You could even call it celestial!