MACLEAN'S REVIEWS

Young man to watch—2: Vibes player with the it-grits

JACK H. BATTEN September 8 1962
MACLEAN'S REVIEWS

Young man to watch—2: Vibes player with the it-grits

JACK H. BATTEN September 8 1962

Young man to watch—2: Vibes player with the it-grits

JAZZMEN, as a class, tend to spring from deprived backgrounds, and a boy who emerges from a high-class private school must immediately be considered a poor bet for success. Nevertheless, the latest Canadian to head toward the top of that intensely competitive business—following Oscar Peterson and Maynard Ferguson—is Hagood Hardy, a graduate of Trinity College School at Port Hope, Ont.

Hardy, a 25-year-old vibraphone player, has been called “a modern Lionel Hampton” by Down Beat and has already moved into the second stage of a promising career. After a quick success in the eastern American jazz world he left last month for Hawaii and a job, at a five-figure salary, with Martin Denny, the leader of a highly popular quintet in California and the Pacific.

Besides the high pay, Hardy expects other rewards from the Denny band. Travel is one; he expects to see Singapore, Hong Kong and Toyko this fall. But more important is the variety of music he’ll be required to play. The Denny repertoire includes something that’s advertised as “exotic sounds”—bird calls, eastern rhythms, etc. Hardy will be playing chimes, marimba, drums, and almost anything else you can hit with a mallet.

The move out west is also part of Hardy’s fairly extensive career planning. “Denny will get me into a higher class of room than jazz groups ordinarily work,” he says, “and I’ll play for a different type of listener. By the time I form my own group, I should have a pretty broad audience.”

Hardy has already led several groups, of mixed quality. At TCS he had a dance band which included an Osler and a Gooderham, but it was “an absolutely square outfit,” as he recalls it. Later, at the University of Toronto —where he graduated in political science—

Hardy led a quartet that became a hit on the coffeehouse circuit. At first he considered himself a student who played jazz on the side; gradually he became a musician who took classes on the side.

After graduation he decided to try the jazz major leagues in New York. He left Toronto without promise of work, but in two months he was playing in the city's best jazz saloons. Moreover, he did it the hard way, by bucking the “Crow Jim” attitude of New York Negro musicians who dislike playing with whites. His first important job was with the Gigi Gryce sexet, in which he was the only white. Charlie Mingus, one of the most important Negro musicians, later offered Hardy the ultimate tribute by telling him he had “the real it-grits” (translation: soulful feeling for jazz). After that, Hardy was accepted by the in-group of New York musicians, and before he left town he briefly led his own quintet at Birdland.

His plan now is to acquire experience with Denny, add it to his jazz background, and eventually form a band which will combine wide commercial appeal with good jazz. His ambition is to lead a group that can “play the Ed Sullivan Show one night and the hippest club in Greenwich Village the next.”

JACK H. BATTEN