Note: PERFORMER PROFILES begin after the DISCOGRAPHY.                                                                                                   http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jhonkahsen

From Left to Right: Date of Issue, Title(s) of Work, Featured Artist(s), Recording Date(s), Label, Format, Catalog Number.

1969 - VIBRA-DREAM CURRENTS: John Case - Rec. 1969     RPC- LP    SLP-2

1970 - THE SOUNDS OF MSA (alternate title - The Moods of Maurice Anderson, Vols 2 & 3): Maurice Anderson -  Rec. 1969  MSA  2 LPs

1972 - SEXTET SESSIONS: John & Jerry Case Sextet featuring Maurice Anderson & Tom Morrell - Rec. 1972   SLP-1 / Priority LP PRS-401 

1973 - PLEASANT DREAMS: John & Jerry Case Quartet with Charles Scott / Trio   Rec. 1970 & 1971      Dawn LP DSLP-401

1974- CONTRASTS IN JAZZ: John & Jerry Case Quartet / Quintet (with Maurice Anderson) - Rec. 1970 & 1974     Priority LP PRS-402

1974 - SERENADE: John & Jerry Case Quartet (featuring Tom Morrell) - Rec. 1974    Priority LP  PRS-403

1975 - ECLIPSE: John & Jerry Case Sextet with Tom Morrell, John Westfall, Kerby Stewart, Ted Wasser -  Rec. 1975  Priority LP  PRS-404

1975- THE MOODS OF MAURICE ANDERSON, VOL. 2 (reissue of 1970 release): Maurice Anderson - Rec. 1969   MSA LP  11014

1976 - TWO MOODS: John & Jerry Case with Tom Morrell, John Westfall, Kerby Stewart, Ted Wasser -  Rec. 1975   Priority LP PRS-405

1977 - JEALOUS GREEN TURNING BLUE / I NEED YOU EVERY DAY: Jack Wyatt - Rec. 1977    Cartwheel Records  45-RPM CW-135

1978 - JAZZ POTPOURRI: John & Jerry Case Quintet (featuring Maurice Anderson) -  Rec.1977   Priority LP  PRS-406

1979 - ELEVATION / LAWTON BLUES: Chuck Caldwell - Rec. 1977      Priority  45 RPM  201

1980 - COUNTRY SWING STEEL GUITAR: Chuck Caldwell (with Jerry Case, Johnny Case & Don Brierton) - Rec. 1977   Priority LP PRS-407

1981 - THE KIND OF LOVE / I CARE NO MORE; Dean Charles (arrangements by Buddy Wallis) - Rec. 1981   Blum Records  45 RPM   BR002

1981 - CREATIVE EXPLOSIONS (free jazz): John Case (with Don Anderson, Mark Lignell, Chris Clarke)  Rec. 1981  Priority LP  PRS-408

1982 - TOMMY CAMFIELD: Tommy Camfield  (with Billy Luttrell, Frank Kinman, Johnny Case, etc.) - Rec. 1982   Blum LP  BRLP002

1984 - THE COUNTRY-JAZZ MOODS OF MERLE DAVID: Merle David (with Case Bros. & Ron Thayer) - Rec. 1980  Priority LP  PRS-409

1986 - SOLO GUITAR ARTISTRY: Jerry Case - Rec. 1985 (produced by John Case)   Priority LP PRS-410

1989 - WESTERN SWING HERITAGE: Roy Lee Brown  (a tribute to Milton Brown) - Rec. 1989    Priority cassette  PTS-3001

1989 - VIBRA-DREAM CURRENTS: John Case (re-issue of 1969 release on RPC label) - Rec. 1969   Anomaly Records   LP  ANOM-1

1990 - RELAXIN': Randy Elmore (w. Rich O'Brien, Gary Carpenter, Johnny Case, etc.) - Rec. 1990    Tex Grass Records   cassette TG-108C

1991 - HOW THE WEST WAS SWUNG, VOL. 1: Tom Morrell & the Time-Warp Tophands - Rec. 1990   Priority   cassette  PTS-3002 

1991 - JUST A CASE OF LOVE: John Case Trio (with Charles Scott & Dave Breashears) - Recorded 1991   Priority  cassette  PJT-1001

1991 - WESTERN SWING HERITAGE, VOL. 2: Roy Lee Brown (a tribute to Milton Brown) - Rec. 1991   Brownie Recording Company  cassette

1991 - HOW THE WEST WAS SWUNG, VOLS. 2 & 3: Morrell / Bobby Koefer - Rec. 1991 (Case on 3 cuts) ; WR Records  cassettes 

1992 - RANDY ELMORE & FRIENDS: Randy Elmore - Rec. 1992   Tex Grass   cassette   TG-110C

1992 - WORKING BOTH SIDES: Bud Carter - Rec. 1992   Carter w. Tom Morrell, Mac McCrae, Case , etc.  Mine Records Productions  cassette   No #

1992 - PTERODACTYL PTALES (How the West Was Swung, Vol. 4): Tom Morrell  - Rec. 1992  WR Records  cassette  WR 004

1993 - HEART OF THE GREAT SOUTHWEST - Johnny Case (a tribute to his parents & uncles) - Rec. 1993   Priority  cassette  PTS-3003

1994 - BUMMIN' AROUND: Tony Ramsey (with Elmore, Morrell, Case, etc.) - Rec. 1992  Lone Prairie Records  cassette  2598 94.7

1994 - UPTOWN (How the West Was Swung, Vol. 5): Tom Morrell & Time-Warp Tophands (w. Chris O'Connell) - Rec. 1994   CD   WR 005

1995 - TEXAS BANDSTAND FAVORITES: Herb Steiner (with Leon Chambers, Mac McRae, Johnny Case, etc.) - Rec. 1995  Mine  cassette

1995 - NO PEDDLERS ALLOWED (Vol. 7): Tom Morrell / Tophands (guests include Herb Remington) - Rec. 1995   WR Records  CD  WR 008

1996 - ON THE MONEY (Vol. 8): Tom Morrell / Tophands (with Leon Rausch, O'Connell, etc) - Rec. '95, '96  WR  CD  WR 009

1996 - SON OF NO PEDDLERS ALLOWED (Vol. 9) Tom Morrell / Tophands (guests Jerry Byrd, Billy Braddy) - Rec 1996  WR CD  WR 010

1997 - SWINGING AND SINGING: Johnny Reno ( one track with Red Young & Johnny Case)  - Rec. 1994 - '97  Menthol CD  MENT 9701

1997 - JAMMIN' JAZZ: B.D. Griffin (with Clint Strong, Johnny Case, Chris Clarke, Andrew Griffith)  - Rec. 1997  Texas Swing Music Co. cassette

1998 - WIN PLACE AND SHOW (Vol. 10): Tom Morrell / Tophands (Leon Rausch, O'Connell, Reams, etc.)  - Rec. 1995-'97  WR CD  WR 012

1998 - SWINGING ON THE RANGE: Buck Reams (with Randy Elmore, Tom Morrell, Johnny Case, etc.) - Rec.1998  Rafter Productions  CD 

1999 - IT'S CHRISTMAS!: Rich O'Brien (with Billy Briggs, Johnny Case, Tim Alexander, Mac McRae, etc.) - Rec. 1999  Western Jubilee  CD

1999 - THE BOYS IN THE BAND: Randy Elmore (w. Curly Hollinsworth, Rich O'Brien, Morrell, Case, etc.) Rec. 1999  Barn Owl  CD  RE-1001

1999 - WOLF TRACKS: Tom Morrell (compilation from How the West Was Swung series) - Rec. 1990 - 1998  Shanachie CD  6044

2000 - JUGGLIN' CATS (Vol.11): Tom Morrell / Tophands (w. Chris O'Connell, Rebecca Kilgore, etc.) - Rec. 2000    WR Records CD  WR  014

2000 - HOW THE WEST WAS SWUNG, VOL. 1: Tom Morrell & Time-Warp Tophands   Rec. 1990, remastered 1999  ; WR Records CD 001

2000 - LET'S RIDE WITH BOB & TOMMY (Vols. 2&3): Koefer with Morrell / Tophands (Case on 3 trks.) - Rec. 1991, reissued 2000  WR CD  

2000 - PTERODACTYL PTALES (Vol. 4)  Tom Morrell / Tophands (all instrumentals) -  Recorded 1992, remastered 1999   WR Records  CD 004

2000 - COUNTRY MUSIC LEGACY: Chuck Caldwell (with Johnny Case, Marcie Carson, etc.) -  Rec.1974,1977,1998,1999   Priority CD  PRSD-411

2001 - STYLIN' (Vol. 12): Tom Morrell & Time-Warp Tophands (all instrumentals) - Rec. 2000 & 2001   WR Records  CD  WR0015

2001 - JAZZ JOURNEY: Johnny Case (with Charles Scott, Dave Breashears, Chris White, Don Sowell, etc.) - Rec. 1990  Priority CD-R   PRSD-412

2001 - LAST NITES: Johnny Case (solo piano @ Sardines Ristorante Italiano) -  Rec. 2001    Priority CD-R   PRSD-415

2001 - SOUTHWESTERN SOUVENIRS: Rich O'Brien -  Rec. 1998 - 2001  Western Jubilee CD   1226-2

2002 - JAZZ IN THE DARK: Johnny Case (with guest Chris White) -  Rec. 2001   Priority  CD-R  PRSD-418

2002 - DANCE HALLS AND LAST CALLS (Compilation with various artists incl. Case w. Roy Lee Brown)      CD    NBM 1010

2003 - COUNTRY WAYS: Johnny Case (with Vernon Farris, Carl Cooper, Leon Rausch, Chuck Caldwell, etc.)   Musicase CD-R   MSO-16

2003 - THE BEST OF TOM MORRELL AND THE TIME-WARP TOPHANDS: Tom Morrell (compilation) - Rec. 1990 -2002  WR  CD    WR0017

2004 - MONKEY BIZNESS (Vol. 13): Tom Morrell/ Tophands (with Leon Rausch, Craig Chambers, etc) - Rec 2000 - 2004   WR CD   WR0018

2004 - WAITING FOR THE MOMENT: Johnny Case Trio (featuring Duane Durrett & Byron Gordon) - Rec. 2003  CD  Sea Breeze Jazz  SB-3068

2004 - WESTERN SWING HERITAGE: Roy Lee Brown (CD-R reissue of the Priority cassette album)   CD-R   Musicase MSO-11

2004 - HEART OF THE GREAT SOUTHWEST: Johnny Case (CD-R reissue of the Priority cassette album)  CD-R  Musicase MSO-12

2005 - I WON'T MENTION IT AGAIN: Leon Chambers (featuring Morrell, Case, Rueffer,etc.) - Rec. 2004    CD    

2005 - DRIFTING BACK: Johnny Case & Bill Hearne -  Rec. 2005     CD-R   Musicase  MSO-15

2005 - LIVE AT SCOTTY'S: Tom Morrell & the Time-Warp Tophands (HTWWS, Vol XIV) - Rec. 2003   CD  WR 0019

2005 - REMNANTS  (collage for concrete sound): Johnny Case - Realized 1982. also: Debris, Alienation - Realized 1990  CD-R  Musicase MSO-10

2005 - AURALAIRE (collage for concrete sound): Johnny Case - Realized 1990    CD-R   Musicase MSO-1

2005 - FOUR ROSES SUITE   a sampler CD from Kahsen/Case Music featuring a lengthy program on one extended track.  Musicase CD-R

2005 - UPON REQUEST, Vol. 1: Maurice Anderson - compilation incl. jazz/swing cuts with Case Bros. rec. 1969. Reissue by Michael Perlowin    CD

2005 - LOVE'S BITTER RAGE (a peace and justice suite): Jhon Kahsen/Johnny Case w. Chelsea Coyne, Joey Carter, etc. Rec. 2005  CD  GDNX-1

2006 - THE COUNTRY-JAZZ MOODS OF MERLE DAVID: Merle David (CD-R reissue of the Priority LP)   CD-R  Musicase MSO-09

2007 - RELAXIN': Tom Morrell & The Time-Warp Tophands (HTWWS, Vol. XV - Morrell's last recording)    Rec. 2006      CD    WR 0020

2008 - STRAYS...AND OTHER SONGS: Johnny Case Trio with Jeremy Hull & Daniel Tcheco   Rec. 2008   CD   Musicase   SJA-101

2008 - TEXAS SUNSET SUITE: Johnny Case with Jerry Case, Mark Abbott, Billy English.   Rec. 2007  CD Musicase SJA-102

2009 - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY: Louise Rowe Reunion Band (Marcie Carson, Tommy Allsup, Jim Oliver. Morrell, Case, etc)  CD 

2010 - SPECTRUM OF SPECTERS: Johnny Case (compilation of free jazz & other unusual music from 1969, 1981, 1992) CD-R  Musicase

2010 - TOM MORRELL MEMORIAL SET: Tom Morrell (Morrell solos with Case Brothers - a compilation from 1970's recordings)  Musicase 

2012 - JAZZ POTPOURRI: John & Jerry Case (CD-R reissue of the Priority LP plus bonus track, "Full Moon")  CD-R   Musicase 

2012 - PICKING ON WILLIE: Tommy Alverson (Case,1 cut only. Other guests: Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush, Clint Strong) Rec. '12  CD WM Music

2013 - MEMORIES OF MISTER SCOTT: Johnny Case (compilation featuring Charles Scott on bass)   CD-R  Musicase

2013 - I REMEMBER BUDDY WALLIS: Buddy Wallis & Friends (Johnny Case assembled this tribute compilation)  CD-R  Musicase 

2013 - HEAVY IS HIS LEGACY: Johnny Case (In homage to guest artist James Clay, "live" @ the Caravan of Dreams) CD-R  Musicase 

2014 - MY DAZE OF WAYS BYGONE: Johnny Case (compilation revisiting 1950's-era country music) - various dates   CD-R  Musicase  

2014 - THE KEEPSAKE ALBUM - Chuck Caldwell  - Rec. 1977 (reissue of the 1980 LP release, with added tracks)  CD-R   Musicase 

2014 - NO ODDS OUT: Johnny Case (live & studio performances of avant garde free jazz)  Rec. 2005, 2006, 2008  CD-R   Musicase  

2015 - SWING SOUTHWEST: Johnny Case (featuring Merle David, Vernon Farris, Chuck Caldwell, Bud Wallis, etc.)   CD-R  Musicase

2015 - IDEAL MISCONCEPTIONS: Johnny Case (works for concrete sound realized in 2014 and June, 2015)     CD-R  Musicase

2015 - THE PRIORITY RECORDINGS: Maurice Anderson with John & Jerry Case (steel guitar solos from the Case jazz LPs)  CD-R  Musicase

2016 - JOHNNY CASE and his TEXAS SWINGTET (featuring BILLY BRIGGS, tenor saxophone). Rec. 2015   CD  Musicase

2016 - THE CARL COOPER SET: Chuck Caldwell & Johnny Case (showcase for legendary Lawton steel man Chuck Caldwell) CD-R  Musicase

2016 - IN MEMORIAM: Tom Morrell   (pedal steel guitar solos on Case Bros. jazz recordings of the 1970's)  CD-R   Musicase

2017 - LOUISE ROWE'S TEXAN PLAYBOYS WITH LIVING LEGENDS (Rowe recordings: 1958 - 2017) Johnny Case on 5 trks.  CD-R  Rowe

2018 - STEEL REFLECTIONS - compilation: Case Brothers w. steel guitarists Maurice Anderson, Chuck Caldwell, Tom Morrell.  CD-R  Musicase 

2019 - VIBRA-DREAM CURRENTS: John Case (50th anniversary reissue of 1969 LP featuring free improvisations on vibraharp) CD-R  Musicase

2019 - OTHER REALMS: 50th Anniversary Edition - Esoteric recordings of Case, operatic sopranos, free jazz, male choir, etc.  CD-R Musicase

2019 - PRESENCE - More Exploratory and Esoteric Music: Johnny Case  (50th Indie Anniversary)  2019, 1992, 1981, 1969.    CD-R  Musicase


                                                                                                     NOTES ON THE RECORDINGS

              This section includes performer profiles, commentaries on the music and recordings, plus review excerpts of album releases.


                                                                                                            PERFORMER PROFILES

                                                                                                          Introduction by Johnny Case


The profiles found in this section represent exclusively those musicians and singers with whom I have performed on recordings listed in the above discography. Some artists may appear both in this section and in the series of blogs spotlighting musicians. When I first realized that my website would allow space for acknowledgements to musicians of merit with whom I've recorded, there was no question about which performers would be featured, the only question was whom I'd like as the first to appear. Although Duane Durrett was not the first musician who came to mind, it was when my thoughts turned to him that my quandary disappeared. Nothing could have been more clear to me than placing him first among many to follow.  

Duane is a model of human integrity in how he found the perfect balance between family life and dedication as a performing artist and music educator. He has refused to sacrifice his art in which he always strives for its highest expression and has likewise maintained the ideal standards as husband and father. As performer and teacher, he has consistently encouraged young, talented students of America's native art form. By his own example, he has served as a source of inspiration to countless performers who now continue the tradition of modern jazz. This is the legacy of Duane Durrett, my friend and musical associate for many years. I asked Duane for his biography, which he has written expressly for this website. While I will contribute most of the profiles to follow, this first one is Duane's story told in his own words.

                             D U A N E     D U R R E T T ,   J a z z   D r u m m e r   a n d   E d u c a t o r    

I was born July 23, 1946 in Weatherford, Texas. There were no musicians in my family that I am aware of, but my dad played piano by ear and loved music. There was always music of some sort in our home. We lived in the country (Punkin’ Center, to be exact) and I grew up with lots of land to explore on my horse. Back at home my mom and dad would have local players come in to play. Lots of good food prepared by my mother and lots of great music played on our piano along with local guitar players and singers. At that time there were not the musical categories that today’s music all falls into. Gospel, folk, western, standards were all the same, just good music. I actually remember at a very early age (2 or 3) hearing the Chuck Wagon Gang singing on the radio. I had to be around that age as I also remember where we lived at that time.

Around the age of eight I stated taking piano lessons from Mrs. Frady, who lived with her husband across the pasture on the Fort Worth highway. I had always played the piano by ear and was always able to pick out my favorite tunes. One strange event, but not too strange for Punkin’ Center, was on my way to my piano lesson with Mrs. Frady, I had to cross the pasture. Lying across my path was a good size rattlesnake. I stopped, put my piano book down, and proceeded to kill the snake. There was an abundance of rattlesnakes at that time on Punkin’ Center hill.

Around age 13 we had moved in closer to town and around that time I had started using hatboxes and pots for drums. I was listening to all kinds of music, but was drawn to R & B. It was just all music to me and I was attracted to the feel of the music. One day in the car with my mother I heard Ray Charles singing, “What’d I Say.” The rhythm captured me and I knew there was something there that I had to learn. It was very similar to a religious awakening. Soon my dad bought me a set of drums for fifty dollars.

Around the ninth grade I got to know guitarist Jim Shannon and eventually started playing in a band with Jim and others. We were playing at the youth center for parties and anything that we could.  Not long after we were playing bars in Mineral Wells and then on the Jacksboro Highway. I wasn’t telling my parents where I was playing all the time. My senior year I was playing three nights a week with saxophonist Lon Price, pianist Eddie Miller and Clayton Cox on bass on the Jacksboro Highway. I can’t remember the name of the clubs, but it was great experience.

Also in high school, Jim Shannon introduced me to Raymond and Clyde George, who had a band called Little Eddie and the Rays in Weatherford. They were playing all of the R & B and jazz that was popular at the time. This was when I first heard organist Jimmy Smith, and again I was blown away with music I had never heard. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that was it. Again, a life-changing event.

I started being a regular at the George’s upholstery shop in Sandtown where they rehearsed. A lot of listening and watching had to happen before I finally was asked to start playing with “Eddie and the Rays.” We were rehearsing almost every night and eventually began working steady in the Fort Worth and Dallas jazz clubs. During the 60’s there were great clubs with jazz. One of the first I was introduced to was the Flamingo Club on Evans Avenue in Fort Worth. Organist Flo Greene, drummer Bob Stewart, Flo’s husband Sonny Greene on vocals, and guitarist Raymond George and then Jim Shannon were the group. There was jazz almost every night with a Sunday session that drew the best players. James Clay, David Newman, Marchel Ivery, Red Garland, bassist Charles Scott, pianist Thomas Reese, Willie T. Albert and Robert Williams on trumpet and others were always there for these great sessions. I was not the regular drummer, but would get to sit in on these serious learning sessions. Many times I would want to quit playing based on what I heard and how I stacked up against these professional musicians. However, one time after sitting in I was encouraged by Ornette Coleman, who was there with his sister Trudy, to keep playing the music.

I attended North Texas State University beginning in the fall 1966. I didn’t make a band that year, as I was not a good reader. I put in the time and the next year I was the drummer in the 3 o’clock band. I made many musical friends at NTSU. Mack Goldsbury, Randy Lee and many more were, and remain, close musical ties. I left college before attaining my degree, but did eventually go back and finish.

Along with the Rays, who were working 3 and 4 nights a week at clubs like the Malibu and other places with Clyde, Raymond, and usually with James Clay or David Newman, Mack Goldsbury or Marchel Ivery, I was working with big bands coming through the area like Ralph Marterie, Les Elgart and others. Also, I started working some shows with Moe Billington at the Hyatt House in Dallas. I was subbing for Banks Dimon and Dale Cook and staying busy every night. Around this time Raymond George and I signed on to make a short tour of east Texas with Hank Crawford. This was the chitlin' circuit for sure. Somewhere out there we headlined for Little Milton, who had just put out his hit, "More and More", which has a very tasty and driving drum part. I can't remember the drummer's name, but I didn't want to play after he got through that night. Another lesson. During this time the Rays became the house band at the famous Sunday sessions at Woodman Hall in Dallas. Many jazz greats, such as Joe Williams, Billy Harper and others would show up when they were in town.

Back in Fort Worth, along with the Rays, I was playing jobs with pianists Johnny Case and Jack Murphy (Dallas), James Clay, some traveling with David Newman and with an incredible pianist living in Dallas, Freddie Crane.

In 1971, I married Anita Swain, who has been the solidifying force in my life. She is responsible for any stable success I have achieved. We have two lovely daughters, Stephanie and Rebecca. I was called by James Clay on Sunday night before Rebecca was born on the following Friday (August 2, 1974) to join the Ray Charles Orchestra. Nita had a troubled pregnancy and so I told James to contact drummer John Bryant. John joined the band and stayed for several years.

Not long after Nita and I married, the music business took one of its nosedives. I had worked full-time as a musician, but now was faced with not as many jobs and a growing family. I didn’t want to stay on the road, so I was working for my dad running a truck stop for a couple of years and playing at night. The jazz scene had changed, although there were still clubs like the Recovery Room featuring jazz. My neighbor, who worked for Weatherford College, asked me if I would be interested in working on a grant at the college with the purpose of recruiting students. It was to last for three months. That was forty years ago. I began by using the pep band as a starting point for hopefully creating a college jazz band, and with it, recruit students. I directed the band for 15 years (1975-1990). It started being a good band when I was able to recruit students from the famed Houston Kashmere High School. Saxophonist Terrance Tony, who later worked with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. This is the beginning of a respectable list of young musicians who went on to work with Wynton Marsalis, Ray Charles, Ray Price, Les McCann, Miranda Lambert, Roy Hargrove, Box Car Willie, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Frank Foster, Snarky Puppy (Grammy Winners) and many more including all the local greats such as James Clay and David Newman.

The process of building an award-winning band is not easy and doesn’t come overnight. I was blessed to have directed some great young musicians, those referred to above, and others who are successful in other professions. The years of 1986 through 1990, which was my last year as director, had the band performing at the Caravan of Dreams and many other locations as it prepared to perform on big band night at the 1987 Montreux Jazz Festival with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Orchestra. Our band was the first two-year college to be chosen for that special night of great jazz. The band was a hit and had Dizzy dancing in the wings. The next year the band was featured at the National Association of Jazz Educators annual conference in San Diego.

In 1990 the Rays were featured at the Utrecht (Netherlands) Jazz and Blues Festival where Raymond, Clyde and I, along with Marchel Ivery (replacing James Clay who had gone over early and had fallen and was unable to make some of the concerts), and vocalist Malcolm Robertson performed along with other jazz and blues greats. About this time I also had started working with saxophonist Dewey Redman. I worked with Dewey for about two years, but only in Texas. I also played several concerts with Fort Worth native Billy Thom Robinson in the mid 90’s in a quartet with pianist Thomas Reese and bassist Charles Scott. Several other gigs of note during those years were a concert with guitarist Kenny Burrell (Roger Boykin, piano and James Gilyard, bass) and a two-week gig with Clark Terry and Red Holloway. Those two weeks culminated at the wedding of Clark Terry, where I played with jazz legend bassist Milt Hinton as part of the wedding. A party followed the wedding with many jazz greats there for New Orleans cooking and jazz all night.

I continue to work as much as possible. I have worked with Kelly Durbin, Lou Harlas and Mack Goldsbury in the Texas Connection and have recorded two CDs under that name. Also, Johnny Case and I started the annual Tribute to James Clay at Arts 5th Avenue in September. 2015 will be the sixth year and it is always a joy to play with all the great friends and hear great stories told about our mentor, James Clay.

Hopefully, this story is a long way from its end with lots of great music to be played. Music changed my life in a very good way. The friends who I share and have shared bandstands with and the many different people and places I have got to know and experience are blessings. If you ever experience the thrill of swing, you know what I mean. Peace.

Duane Durrett  4-27-15


                                                                                                        - Select Recordings -

LAB! (Annual Fall Concert - North Texas State University, November 25, 1969) Century 36264

LAB! (Annual Spring Concert - North Texas State University, April 14, 1970) Century 38140


A partial and unfinished recording (1979) by David Newman, Clyde George, Jim Perkins, Duane Durrett.  Reference CD-R transferred from analog tape.

Weatherford College Jazz Band @ Montreux Jazz Festival -1987. Featured guest artist: David Newman. Duane Durrett, band director.                                                                                                                                         Reference CD-R  transferred from analog tape.             

Dewey Redman Concert in Houston, Texas (1995) with Thomas Reese, James Gilyard, Duane Durrett.  Reference CD-R  transferred from tape.

WAITING FOR THE MOMENT (2004) - Johnny Case Trio (with Duane Durrett & Byron Gordon).    Sea Breeze Jazz CD    SB-3068

LIVE AT ARTS FIFTH AVENUE: TEXAS TENOR SAX LEGACY (2005) featuring Mack Goldsbury & Marchel Ivery with Duane Durrett, Drew                                                                 Phelps, Johnny Case.   Reference CD-R produced by Arts Fifth Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas.

THIS IS HOW WE FEEL (2010) – The Texas Connection (Duane Durrett, Mack Goldsbury,  Kelly Durbin, Lou Harlas).          CD

DEPARTED VOICES (2011) – The Texas Connection (Duane Durrett, Mack Goldsbury,  Kelly Durbin, Lou Harlas, Victor Cager).        CD

SANDTOWN (2015) - Mack Goldsbury with Clyde George, Duane Durrett, Tom Burchill, Victor Cager.  This CD is a tribute to The Rays, a                                              1960’s band with personnel including: James Clay, tenor sax; Clyde Edward George, Hammond B-3; Raymond                                                                    George, guitar; Duane Durrett, drums.   CD

                                           * Numerous other reference recordings are in the music archives of Weatherford College.



                                                                                                  K E R B Y    S T E W A R T

                                                                                                                   By Johnny Case


His imprint on my memory is such that I can still see him hurriedly coming into a gig venue, toting his bass and wheeling in his amp. It was a sight of delight for any and all of the top musicians who played the countless free-lance gigs where personnel is sometimes not known by the participants until gig time. I speak for jazz musicians in particular, because we loved him. Knowing that it would be Kerby on the gig meant there would be a groove, for he always supplied the solid, swinging acoustic bass which assures a relaxed and pleasant playing experience for the other musicians. Kerby Stewart was the quintessence of the true professional who possessed a natural musicality combined with a thorough scholastic foundation. Although Kerby was not a particularly extroverted personality, he was a man of sincerity and good spirits. Kerby was kind to everyone, and to those who knew him well, it was fun being in his company.

Man, when I met him in 1967 or '68, it was at a house party where the landlord had invited his musician-tenant (Bill Majors) to have his friends over for a jazz jam. Jerry Case and I had only recently met Bill Majors and we were lucky to be among the invited participants. There were three bass players we'd not yet encountered: Bill Hieronymus, Mike Ross and Kerby. All three were gifted bassists, but Kerby stood out as the best. These players were near my age (about 20 years old). I was heartened to discover a crop of like-minded young musicians, and the fact of a delayed encounter with these players can be attributed to their academic background which placed them in a different circle from the self-taught musicians, no matter how advanced and impressive some in the latter group proved to be. We jammed on tunes we were all familiar with, so there was no reading involved. When, at age 15, I'd made the conscious decision to forge ahead in learning by ear, I was well aware that my chosen route would exclude me from ever doing studio work, playing with orchestras or playing scored shows, etc. Therefore, it felt wonderful to be accepted as a player by these schooled musicians who placed the real value of jazz performance on naturally developed talent for improvisation. One achieves this by listening, practicing, and by performing with others whenever possible. I must say, Kerby had it all together at this young age. I was good enough to participate, but he was far ahead of me, in my estimation. He was therefore an inspiration, and although he would continue to grow musically, I had much more growing to do than did the young Kerby Stewart. I would be striving to reach that higher plateau he so clearly and confidently occupied.

He attended North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), internationally known for its jazz program. Kerby Stewart was bassist with the famous One O'clock Lab Band in the early 1970's. I remember when he later joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Not long afterward, I eagerly responded to a friend's telephone call asking me to play a jam session one Sunday afternoon while Kerby was between road trips with Kenton. Kerby Stewart and young drummer Peter Erskine comprised Kenton's formidable rhythm team. One superlative album was recorded and issued during their tenure. After a couple of years or so, Kerby joined the Woody Herman Orchestra, probably for the varied experience. It was a different type of band with definitely more emphasis on swinging and less on the more intellectual musical excursions for which his previous employer is well known.

It was when Kerby was with Herman's band that I hired him for a recording session. I assembled an unusual sextet for this 1975 session that yielded four lengthy cuts of some recent originals I had composed. These were side-long cuts, so they were issued on two LPs, the second of which was issued in 1976. The personnel: Jerry Case, guitar; John Westfall, trombone & bass trombone; Tom Morrell, pedal steel; Kerby Stewart; acoustic bass; Ted Wasser, drums and myself on piano. The first album representing this session was titled "Eclipse". In his Cadence Magazine review, Bob Rusch referred to its contents as "bold and assertive music" (Vol.1, No. 10, Sept. 1976). Another recording, this one in the archives, documents a live set from 1976 featuring vocalist Tammy Brooks accompanied by the Case brothers with Kerby Stewart as an added guest performer. The venue was The French Quarter, a small club in Fort Worth that sometimes featured live music. Ms. Brooks recorded the night's performance to have as a souvenir. Over the years I had the pleasure of performing with this primo bassist in a variety of settings. We played a Dallas trio gig with the great British drummer Colin Bailey, a concert with jazz guitarist Clint Strong at Weatherford College, a wedding gig with Clint Strong and Andrew Griffith on drums, an ad hoc jazz concert at a shopping mall, and during my early years at Sardines Ristorante Italiano he played one memorable night with my trio. It is memorable to me because of Kerby's response to crowd apathy. We'd just played a really up tempo number, which was very intense and energetic. At the tune's conclusion, the usual crowd noise continued with zilch reaction to the music they had apparently ignored. Kerby looked up and out at the crowd. He had a stunned expression on his face, which quickly disappeared as he commented: "Oh, they're on the other side". He had succinctly described that invisible barrier that sometimes separates the creative performers from an oblivious clientele.

No matter how infrequent our encounters, Kerby Stewart was always the same friendly individual whom I had known him to be through the years. The last time I saw Kerby was at Sammons Center for the Arts in Dallas. He was with the Gumbo Kings, a top notch dixieland band. They played the night's first set. I had time to speak with him briefly before the second set began. Duane Durrett, Byron Gordon and I played music from our "Waiting for the Moment" CD. The year was 2004.

In addition to Kerby's renown as a bassist, he was also highly respected as a recording engineer and as an educator in both music performance and sound recording. Kerby's sudden death was such a shock, it brought expressions of disbelief from a huge number of friends and fellow musicians. His absence will continue to be felt by the Dallas/Fort Worth jazz community. This much admired musician and educator was also a devoted family man. No one could have felt the terrible impact of Kerby's unexpected, early death more than his wife and their four children.

The following words are from the official tribute posted online in early 2008.

"In Celebration of Kerby Stewart, February 28, 1947 - February 13, 2008.

Kerby Stewart, 60, passed away after a brief bout of pneumonia on February 13, 2008. Kerby was a popular recording engineer and double bassist who performed regularly with the N'Awlins Gumbo Kings. During a career that spanned more than 40 years, he toured with the NORAD Commodores Jazz Band, the Stan Kenton Orchestra, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and the UNT 1:00 Lab Band. He performed with the Dallas and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras, the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show Rodeo Band, the Ice Capades, and Dallas Summer Musicals. He also performed with a long list of jazz and pop music stars, including: Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Mose Allison, Stan Getz, Phil Woods, Ray Price, Gary Burton, Chet Atkins, Jim Hall and Louie Bellson.

On the other side of the microphone, Kerby established himself as a professional educator. He was an active teacher and clinician, not only for bass and improvisation, but also in the field of recording technology. Kerby developed the recording courses and helped develop the curriculum for the Recording Technology option of the Commercial Music Program at Cedar Valley College where he taught for 30 years. He was a graduate of Texas Christian University with a BFA degree in Radio/Television/Film. After TCU, he studied at the University of North Texas in the areas of Computer Science and Music."

                                                                                     KERBY STEWART - Select Discography                                                                                                             

Stan Kenton Orchestra - 7.5 On the Richter Scale: Recorded 1973 and issued on Jasmine Records JAS 201  (LP)                                                                                                                                                      also issued on Creative World STD 1070   (CD)

John & Jerry Case Sextet - Eclipse: Recorded 1975 and issued on Priority Records  PRS- 404 (LP)

  "          "       "         "     - Two Moods:  Recorded 1975 and issued on Priority Records  PRS-405  (LP)

Slim Richey - Jazz Grass: Recorded 1977 and issued on Ridge Runner Records  RRR0009  (LP)

Paul Guerrero Quintet - Texas Tenors featuring James Clay & Marchel Ivery: Recorded Sept./Oct.1985 - issued on Jazz Mark Records 104  (LP)

Chet Baker - Time After Time: Recorded January 13 & 14 1985 and issued on the Italian label IRD Records TDM 004-1  (LP)                                                         advisory note: There is another album by Chet Baker that has the same title!

The N'Awlins Gumbo Kings - We're The Gumbo Kings:  Recorded 2004 and issued by Herring, Howard & Sizer    No #     (CD)




                                                                                                           J O H N    W E S T F A L L

                                                                                                                    by Johnny Case


Whenever a jazz musician is confined in a commercial dance band, and that is his only outlet for musical expression (or some semblance of such), this defines one of numerous ways a musician pays dues. The years I worked with trombonist John Westfall call to mind a decade of paying dues. He and I worked in Dave Howard's combo from approximately 1973 until circa 1978. John was a wonderful trombone player, definitely a jazz improviser at heart. The sad truth is we never once played a jazz gig. Howard's engagements were always dance band dates, mostly for the elegant and exclusive private club circuit of oil-rich Fort Worth and surrounding areas. Despite a repertoire that included obligatory square hits of the times, maybe fifty percent of the tunes were classic pop, mixed with a few swing and jazz instrumentals. Howard was the drummer/leader who also shared vocal duties with John. Whenever there was an opportunity to liven things up, John and I would interject as much jazz as possible. Fortunately, this met with full approval from Dave Howard, whose true love was the better quality material in his book. He and John had long been friends and had played together many times in different bands. It was no doubt a mutual respect and their friendship that had led Dave Howard to feature trombone as the lead instrument in his four piece band. This instrumentation was unique in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. John Westfall's great musical ability, however, made it seem perfectly normal, and actually became the expected and perhaps favored sound by the dance crowds for whom we played. The jazz bond caused John and I to become good friends, and this made the gigs more interesting, or at least more tolerable. Very few jazz gigs existed at this time, except for the Dallas club called The Recovery Room. There are always more qualified jazz musicians than there are gigs during any era, and certainly the 1970's decade wasn't known as a thriving time for jazz.

John had a tall and towering physique, a big-boned man well suited for playing a big instrument. He stood upright and carried himself as someone quite comfortable in his own skin. He shared with the leader a healthy sense of mischievous fun, and I sometimes felt as though the two of them were overgrown adolescents amusing themselves with escapades of imposture and other harmless pranks. John was a far more serious musician than such behavior would have some people believe. My series of jazz recordings had been an ongoing project throughout the 1970s, a means of feeling a sense of creative accomplishment in a time when no public venue for jazz was available to me. My recognition of John's depth as an improviser came gradually because the brevity of solos we played in the Dave Howard band restricted any kind of idea development in terms of making sustained musical statements. By 1975, however, I was eager to include John on a studio session being planned for May. Jerry Case and I cut four lengthy originals in the fine company of Kerby Stewart, bass; Ted Wasser, drums, Tom Morrell, pedal steel guitar and John Westfall, trombone and bass trombone. All tunes were first and only takes. John did not disappoint. In fact, he contributed strong, rousing solos informed by the logic of a masterful improviser.

As I had become aware on our gigs together, John Westfall played with lots of heart. He also had an open mind regarding the most modern movements taking place in jazz. He was a fan of the avant garde trombonist Roswell Rudd (whose sound and techniques harkened back to the earliest jazz), and the brilliant German virtuoso Albert Mandelsdorff. Of no less interest to John was the great music of the past. John, being older than myself, taught me about the marvelous Bill Harris, known by his fans as "The Professor". Harris was the composer of Everywhere, a trombone feature which Roswell Rudd re-recorded in 1966 as a tribute to Harris.  In the liner notes to his album entitled Everywhere, Rudd states: " That's Bill Harris talking" in reference to the hauntingly beautiful title piece. John also never forgot his deep admiration for the legendary Jack Teagarden, another of the pre-bop giants of the trombone.

Speaking of bebop, the vocabulary of that revolutionary music as applied to trombone (J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Carl Fontana, Curtis Fuller, etc.) formed a large part of John's musical language. He also knew the merits of lesser-known players who were exceptionally good, such as George Bohanon and Jimmy Knepper. In his observations regarding bebop, John once told me that the great upheaval I had witnessed in the 1960's with the emergence of the avant garde, "new thing" or free jazz, was nothing compared to that of the bebop revolution in the 1940's.

Since our listening tastes ventured toward art with no boundary lines, we felt all the more confined by the reality of our immediate playing situation. Once, when bored near the end of a playing engagement, John & I began to "play free", as in free jazz - only to see a drunken couple get out on the dance floor! We looked at each other and cracked up.

We had lots of fun in those years. Sometimes the "fun" got a bit out of hand. The drinking perhaps went too far, as all four of us were, by most people's standards, shall we say...over-indulging. This ended up ending our welcome at the various venues where we had played during the 1970's. In retrospect, there were only two nights out of myriads which were actually rewarding from a musical standpoint. One was when Kerby Stewart subbed for our regular bassist and the other was in 1976 or 1977 when Dave Howard's band played Fort Worth's Jewel Charity Ball at Ridglea Country Club. For this ultra-important high society event, Dave augmented our band with the stellar jazz guitarist/educator Jack Peterson, who taught at the famed University of North Texas. From the very first tune, which I seem to recall was the instrumental "Relaxin'", this veteran soloed with such self-assurance, alternating linear double-time passages with rich chordal work, he inspired me and probably John also, as I recall we both played our best within the constraints of playing for the Jewel Charity Ball.

During those years of knowing John, I gained much knowledge from him because he was open to sharing. I viewed him as a natural teacher, and he in fact had a number of private students. More than once I heard him comment that he derived more satisfaction from teaching than from playing. John loved to help anyone develop their talent, especially those eager and talented youngsters who would carry forward the knowledge and art of jazz improvisation. My own curiosity about much of what I hadn't yet heard of the jazz legacy spurred John to share those treasured 78 rpm records he'd kept intact all through the years. One day he invited me to his place where we listened to original recordings such as the Bill Harris feature Everywhere by the Woody Herman Orchestra and Gerry Mulligan's bop-influenced Elevation performed by the Elliott Lawrence Orchestra. Being from the midwest, John's familiaity with territory bands often spiked his rememberances of the big band era. I heard him speak of the west coast studio musicians including Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana, bass trombonist George Roberts and the legendary trumpeter Conrad Gozzo. I'm not sure how many orchestras John had played with, but his reading skills were evidently more than sufficient to handle reading the charts. I sensed that John was perhaps more interested in the greater freedom of playing with small groups which allow for more improvisation. In his young years, he had been with groups of like-minded modernists. A photo given to me by his son Mark Westfall, shows a young John Westfall playing with a quintet consisting of Bob Montgomery, bass; John Nelson, piano; Harvey Haas, drums, and an unidentified saxophonist. The photo is not dated, but is probably from the early 1950's. Junction City, Kansas fostered quite a number of ambitous young players, striving to realize their full musical potential. Johnny Nelson is one with whom John remained in contact. Nelson had gone on to become a busy arranger based in Sacremento, California. One of the original bebop tunes dating back to those early days was entitled Function at the Junction. The title itself never failed to elicit a chuckle from John and bring a grin to his face. His sense of humor is still with me. He had a penchant for corny vaudeville lines: "I'm so broke I can't pay attention" and "We need to find a happy medium, or at least a contented fortune teller". The others I will spare readers from suffering. When he bought a bass trombone and became serious about exploring its potential as a jazz solo instrument, the tenor trombone interested him less and he good-naturedly referred to it as a "pea-shooter", a familiar term to many trombonists. I also learned that the valve trombone is a "bastardized instrument". John would say these things with that familiar grin and a twinkle in his eye. On one occasion as we were preparing to begin our first set at a new venue, he correctly noted "the unisons are out" when I played a chord on the out-of-tune piano. On matters of health, John once acknowledged his somewhat bulging stomach and said he would soon begin a special diet to help get back to his original weight: "six pounds and three ounces"  ...oops, I promised not to return to the vaudeville!

How could you not love a guy who kept your mind off how miserable were the gigs we had to endure? After Dave Howard's bookings ended, John and I played some dixieland jobs, and we were grateful for the work. The most memorable one was with drummer Cody Sandifer. His band included a "lyrical lush" trumpeter named Snuffy Klaus and multi-instrumentalist Winston Barney on trumpet and vibes. The biggest problem was that Snuffy quite often failed to show up, which is when Winston didn't play the vibes. Why did Cody keep Snuffy Klaus as a band member? Anyone who'd ever heard the veteran's light and wonderfully melodic soloing and the warmth of his tone...would know the answer. Bandleader Cody Sandifer was the "unruly" one among brothers Sandy and Perry, who were popular musician/band leaders in Fort Worth's society circles. It is fitting that the last gig John and I played together offered no shortage of laughs and good humor.

John Westfall later moved back to his home state of Kansas, but returned to Fort Worth on occasional visits. By the mid-1980's, I had finally settled into that jazz gig which had been non-existent a decade earlier. John was happy for me, and I was thrilled when he sat in to play a few tunes. For once, John and I played real jazz at Sardine's Ristorante Italiano, known as much for its "Live Jazz Nightly" as for its fine Italian cuisine. Unfortunately, by this time John had developed heart problems. His health was visibly deteriorating, and he no longer stood erect. John's immediate goal was to save enough money for the expensive open heart surgery that could save his life. It was a tough go without the health insurance which many musicians do not have.

John Walter Westfall was born March 20, 1930 in Junction City, Kansas. After graduating from high school in 1948, he attended Bethany College at Lindsborg, Kansas, The University of Texas at Arlington, and Kansas State University. In addition to his work as a musician and music teacher in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, he taught music privately for many years in the Junction City and Manhattan (Kansas) area, specializing in brass instruments. Over the decades of his life he performed with various bands including the Harry Ranch Orchestra, the Vaughn Bolton Orchestra and the New Vintage Jazz Band. Before he could accumulate the funds for open heart surgery, John Westfall died of a heart attack on May 11, 1995 at the age of 65.




                                                M E M O R A B L E    M U S I C I A N S    F R O M     MY    F O R M A T I V E    Y E A R S    I N    T H E    M U S I C    P R O F E S S I O N


                                                                                                                               M A U R I C E    A N D E R S O N


It would be difficult to overestimate his importance and influence on my early years. I was eager to learn the more advanced aspects of music and my encounter with Maurice Andeson led to a stimulated capacity for understanding and applying many musical ideas that were new to me and consistent with my quest for modern musical concepts and their practical applications within various contexts. To reconcile such sophistication with the underlying folk music foundation of western swing and the even more restrictive demands of "straight" country music seemed a near impossibility. Yet, some among the western swing musicians of the southwest were quite adept at such infusion. None could have illustrated it better than Maurice Anderson, whose real goal perhaps had long been to take his chosen instrument outside the genres where steel guitar was custimarily heard and introduce its vast potential to the world of popular music and modern jazz.

The Case brothers' association with Anderson began in late May or early June of 1964. My older brother, guitarist Jerry Case, met him in Las Vegas, Nevada, where they were performing at the Golden Nugget in separate bands, playing alternating sets. Jerry Case and Maurice Anderson not only heard each other perform, but seemed to have an immediate mutual respect. This initial acquantance would soon become a lasting friendship. In a routine telephone call to "check in" with family, Jerry updated us on his Vegas gig (his second time to play there, following a week in January with Joe Carson). After mom and dad visited with him, I eagerly told Jerry about a terrific steel player I'd seen and heard on the televised "Cowtown Jamborree" the previous Saturday as I awaited a local band bus (a Volkswagon!) to pick me up at our parents' house. I rode with other members of The Stardusters, to play the Texoma Club across the state line north of our home in Paris. Although I didn't know the name of the steel man who had impressed me, I told Jerry that he was accompanying Charlie Walker of Grand Ole Opry fame. During his first "commercial-style" interlude (played with obvious expertise) the steel player ended his solo with an unexpected and very rapid single-note line descending into nether regions of a sonic range lower than I was accustomed to hearing on steel guitar. His execution was crisp and flawless. It was a clear signal to anyone listening closely - this musician had much more to offer than the obligatory country sounds this gig required. Jerry didn't interrupt me, but responded with a wealth of information that set my head reeling. This was when I learned that Walker and the band I'd heard on Saturday (televised from Fort Worth's Panther Hall) immediately afterward traveled to Las Vegas to begin a week-long engagement at the Golden Nugget, rotating sets (for non-stop entertainment) with Judy Kaye's band featuring my brother on guitar. Jerry advised me about the steel man in question. "His name is Maurice Anderson". Jerry verified the man's prowess on pedal steel. He'd heard Maurice in a jam session with another giant, Curly Chalker. who was based in Vegas during much of the 1960s. It was Jerry's impression that they possessed equal mastery, and each had his own style. Furthermore, in meeting Maurice, my brother learned that upon his return to Dallas, Maurice was to join Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. From recent local radio advertisements I knew that Wills was booked into Paris to play an upcoming Wednesday night at Barrett's, a skating rink that doubled as a dance hall. Twice before I had gone there on my own to hear the legendary Wills. Each time it was with a rather "pared-down" version of Texas Playboys. In hindsight, I cherish the memory of being there to experience the charismatic stage presence of Bob Wills, to enjoy vocalist Joe Andrews, the stunning fiddle work of Gene Gasaway, Bobby McBay's rock-solid drumming and longtime Wills-stalwart Gene Crownover on steel. The second of the two times, Wills had augmented his band with guitarist extraordinaire Leon Chambers. The third trip to hear Wills would prove to be yet something else...an expanded band with two new exciting soloists.

Primed with "insider" info from my brother, I planned a third visit to Barrett's, which otherwise I would not have made. The real reason was to hear the great steel guitarist who'd been unknown to me only a few days before. It was early June 1964 when the newest edition of Texas Playboys came to Paris. Unlike previous times, I arrived early, well ahead of other attendees and shortly before the band..They had to lug their heavy equipment up a flight of wooden steps to reach the performance space. From my seat at a table, I first heard voices and clamoring before I could see the musicians, one by one, emerge from below, and I recognized Maurice Anderson from having seen him recently on the TV program. The timing seemed a bit awkward - all the bandmembers were winded from the load-in. As it happened, Maurice set his encased instrument on the floor very near where I was sitting. Maybe he appreciated a moment to catch his breath. At any rate, I arose and approached him addressing him by name: "Are you Maurice Anderson?" He seemed surprised but immediately replied in acknowledgement. I quickly mentioned my brother's name. Jerry had encouraged me to meet him, assuring me: "He's real friendly and very approachable".  I heard instant praise for Jerry's guitar playing, and again soon afterward: "That guy sounds like Barney Kessel, doesen't he". I'm certain the pride I felt was evident on my face, for Kessel was the guitarist many jazz-minded western swing musicians most admired. From this point on, it was almost as though we were already friends and the only unrealized objective was simply in getting better acquainted. At age 29, Maurice was much like the person I wanted to become. He was very self-assured in his demeanor and remarkably advanced in his music. He was also a handsome young man. I was a skinny and shy 16 year-old kid who had only recently realized that I possessed real musical talent. This is what gave me the courage to approach him. As Maurice began setting up his steel while I watched with great interest, he continued to keep a dialogue going by asking questions, one of which pertained to school. The semester had ended but I was one-half credit short of being a senior. I said: "I'm going to summer school..." and before I could further explain he said: "That's great!", which was an unexpected response and so positive it changed my whole outlook on the subject. As the time neared for the band to start playing, Maurice gave me a heads-up concernng the "very good guitarist" Billy Carter. He was from Houston and was another new hire, following Leon Chambers who had left not long before.

This was a 10-piece band. The familiar members were: Joe Andrews, vocals; Bob Wills, Gene Gasaway & George Clayborn, fiddles; Gene Crownover, steel guitar; Luke Wills. bass & vocals; Bobby McBay, drums. The new members were: Benny Johnson, piano; Maurice Anderson, pedal steel and Billy Carter, lead guitar. The steels were positioned up front on opposite sides of the bandstand, with guitarist Carter in close proximity to Anderson. Quite predictably I sat where I could watch both.  

I cannot recall many specific things about what I heard. It was mostly the standard Wills fare, but with solos by Anderson and Carter that lifted the music to a higher plane. Everything Maurice played was in a harmonically advanced vein, and swung very hard. Unlike the Charlie Walker gig, with Wills there was no need for, or expectation of, the "Nashville" approach, and it was therefore absent. A few of the selections were obviously new arrangements untilizing the additional guitarists, with melodies and/or riffs played in harmony by the threesome of Crownover, Carter and Anderson. I didn't find these ensemble sections particularly striking, but the three played well together and it was refreshing to hear guitars in tandem rather than ensemble work always being by the fiddlers. I stayed all night, so I heard numerous songs often played at a Wills dance. One tune that made a lasting impression was Jersey Bounce, which I'd not heard from Wills before. Alas, I remember no specifics regarding which instruments played the melody. I love the chord changes of the bridge and Maurice soloed with such creative sophistication, this one song stands out in my memory of the music I heard that night.

There was one band break of approximately 30 minutes between two lenghy sets. Maurice came over to my table and asked if I wanted something to drink. Since Barretts was a BYOB venue, going to the bar was for water, ice and soft drinks. He ordered a cola and asked what I wanted. I chose an orange drink which he insisted on buying and we walked back to the table and talked music.Maurice was interested in hearing that I played piano in a dance band, playing every Saturday night. I was grateful that during this time period we weren't playing on Wednesdays. In hindsight, it makes me wonder about an "unseen hand" guiding the events in my young life. One topic that Maurice introduced was his newfound company, MSA custom steel guitars. On the Wills gig, Fender Instruments furninshed guitars and amps, and the pedal steel Maurice had chosen was a new model single-neck ten-string, The Fender 800. I may have mentioned my desire to play steel, having bought a used Rickenbacher 6-string lap steel. It's true that I'd not yet accepted the fact that piano was to be my instrument. For certain, it was early in our friendship that Maurice was aware of my imterest in playing steel. During our conversation, I was aware that other band members were milling around, sometimes close to us. I could sense a few looking our way, as if: "What's this?"  I would have liked to meet Billy Carter, but there was no introduction. In a way, it seemed that Maurice was different from the others: Imtermission was an opportunity for musicians to indulge in smoking and drinking whiskey. Maurice was obviously not interested in either, and seemed perfectly content to sit with a kid who was there only to soak up the music. 

Only a few weeks later, this Wills aggregation played Panther Hall in Fort Worth, including the Saturday night live "Cowtown Jamboree" telecast from which I had previously made audio recordings. Considering the benefit of being able to listen repeatedly to sound recordings, it was another stroke of good fortune for me to make tapes from which I could study the creative solos. The opener on the televised show was a recent Longhorn Records release, Sooner or Later, a feature for Joe Andrews. The solos are in this order: Gene Crownover, Benny Johnson, Maurice Anderson and Billy Carter. As would be evident in future performances of the Wills band, Gene Crownover's solos weren't improvisations but were pre-concieved, not spontaneous creations. Therefore, whenever the band played, for example, Take Me Back to Tulsa, you'd hear the same solo every time that song was played. The piano player favored a deliberately old-fashioned barrel house style, which seemed to please Bob Wills. The new hire guitarists, Anderson on pedal steel and Billy Carter on standard, were true improvisers, Maurice Anderson's solo on Sooner or Later is a classic, exhibiting supreme taste and musicality in a hard-driving approach inspired and encouraged.by the legendary bandleader. Ditto for guitarist Billy Carter, who swung so hard he would stomp his foot and vocalize with his single-note improvisations. These, however, were often interspersed with chordal passages of modern voicings sometimes utilizing dissonance. Every tune the Wills band played offered new surprises from these two exciting soloists. It is fortunate that I recognized the value of recording as a learning tool, both in recording oneself and therefore discovering where more work is required, and in recording masterful musicians for inspiration and pragmatic examples of how to best use the components of musical language. To this day, I marvel at the quality of improvised solos Anderson and Carter provided when they were with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. The year was 1964, a time of extremes in my young life, and impressions never to be forgotten.

An abrupt change came to the Case family in the summer of 1964. The Dallas electronics company with which my father had a franchise insisted that, in order to improve his sales, he must move from Paris to a larger metropolitan area. It was mutually agreed between dad and Adleta Electronics that he would relocate his business (One Stop Electronics Supply) in the Dallas suburb of Garland. My father went ahead of us so that he could find and rent the commercial space for his business. Once this was accomplished, he went to work building a sales counter and additional shelving for his stock. It was up to my mom and me to prepare for a massive move and, with a two-story house to clear out, the work was non-stop and exhausting. In Garland, we rented a comfortable house until we could give thought to finding a house to buy. Once we began to get settled in, the realization of professional playing opportunities gave my spirits a much needed lift. When Jerry visited us in our new location (he was living in Wichita Falls), he and I decided to look up Maurice Anderson at MSA Custom Steel Guitars. We had his businass card and one day immediately after lunch, we headed for Oak Cliff  where the MSA shop was located on Tyler just north of Jefferson Avenue . When we arrived, a very surprised Maurice greeted us.and made us feel welcome. He'd not seen us together until then and he seemed delighted to hear that our famiiy's home base was now in nearby Garland. Jerry and I were already acquainted with the matinee music scene in Dallas, so we asked our new friend where we might go to hear something we'd enjoy. He said: "Bud Carter is a very good commercial steel player who's working with a fine band at the Spot 77. I'd recommend that. I think you'll enjoy Bud, he plays nice!". With this endorsement from a great musician we were soon on our way, following the directions Maurice gave us  Upon arrival we walked into a nice club we'd not known about previously. We were more familiar with honky tonks, but this place seemed elegant by comparison. It shared with the dives however, the dark atmosphere favored by all the dance venues. Going through double set of doors to allow one's eyesight to get acclimated to the windowless darkness was a characteristic to which Jerry and I were already accustomed. The afternoon would prove to be memorable.

The room was not crowded, making it easy for Jerry and me to find a seat at a table close to the bandstand. The five-piece band was playing and a few other visiting musicians were seated near us, including Billy Gray's impressive young steel guitarist, Denny Mathis. We'd not met most of these musicians, but we recognized multi-instrumentalist Tommy Morrell, on drums. Not until this day did we realize that this innovative guitarist and pedal steel man, who was also known to play trombone, could additionally provide tasteful and steady drumming whenever the need arose. Pedal steel guitarist Bud Carter was set up on the left, directly in front of where Jerry and I were seated. Slightly behind and to the right was Charlie Meeks, bass guitarist extaordinaire. Up front and center at the mic, bandleader Eddie Willis provided compelling vocals and solid rhythm guitar. Directly behind Willis was Morrell on drums. Sharing lead duties with Bud Carter was guitarist Steve Rodriguez, positioned right of Eddie Willis, but standing behind a Hammond B-3 organ which occupied the space up front.. What was unusual about this band, no doubt assembled simply to fill a gig opportunity, was the high degree of musical sensitivity.. The lack of a large crowd actually proved beneficial to this band's subdued and subtle approach to playing good material within the country music / western swing dance music context. Their repertoire also included pop and jazz-influenced material. Bud was featured on Stardust and the break tune (featuring both guitarists) was an impressive version of "Hold It", popularized by R&B organist Bill Doggett. The swing tunes and country ballads such as "Welcome To My World" and "Am I Losing You" were very quiet, sublime interpretations. This is the only band I've ever heard "live" that evoked the same exquisite ambiance as is present on those early Liberty recordings by Willie Nelson singing "Let Me Talk To You", "Right or Wrong", "The Things I might Have Been" and two or three more from the same session produced by Tommy Allsup in 1963. If I had to choose one word to describe my overall impression of the musicianship I heard that afternoon at the Spot 77 in Dallas, I would use the word refined.







                                                                                       la                                                   T O M    M O R R E L L

                                                                                                                                               by Johnny Case


The great guitarist / pedal and non-pedal steel guitarist and visionary record producer Charles Thomas Morrell was born in Dallas, Texas on Halloween, October 31, 1938...on the same evening that Orson Wells scared the wits out of many among the American populace listening to his realistically devised "War of the Worlds" radio drama.