Saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman met Ray Charles while on tour with Buster Smith (Charlie Parker's mentor). When Charles began his own band in 1954, he called Newman to join him. In 1959, Newman recorded his famous rendition of "Hard Times" on his breakout LP, Ray Charles Introduces David Newman: "Fathead."
Since then Newman plied his trademark soulful, earthy sound with many of the biggest names in jazz and popular music, including Billy Higgins, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Mann, Aaron Neville and Stanley Turrentine. His resume also includes a string of landmark recordings as a leader.
A recipient of the R&B Foundation Pioneer award, Newman embodies the definition of a versatile artist. He can bring an audience to its knees with his "gritty, Texas-tenor" sound, blow past most "smooth jazz whippersnappers" and "wow listeners with flawless hard bop or infectious soul jazz." (Daily News)
Is David Newman still going strong? Just last year, Newman was voted "Instrumentalist of the Year" and his CD, I Remember Brother Ray, voted "Album of the Year" by the readers of JazzWeek Magazine.
This year the sax legend released a new CD, Cityscape, of which JazzTimes said, "Cityscape proves that Newman hasn't lost much of his fastball. He's still a solid, straight-forward improviser, heavy on blues feeling and refreshingly light on thrills."
Or, as jazz critic John Murph has put it, "At the ripe age of 70, Newman still hones a brawny, robust tone that's enlivened by his nimble, dance-like phrasing."
"I'm not one for these labels and titles that are put on music," saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman says. "It's all music, and it's all interesting. It's wonderful to be able to go from one style to the other."
As John Murph notes, "Like his blustery, wide-open sound, his improvisational emphasis on the melody is a testament to his Southern blues roots, proudly extending the legacy of Texas tenors which includes . . . Buddy Tate, Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb."
As for the nickname? It came from his high school band teacher. Newman had memorized his music because he was just learning to read it. While playing a memorized number, his teacher caught him with his sheet music upside-down on the stand in front of him. Newman recalls his teacher commented, "Never mind, upside down!" with a slap on the head before adding, "You're a fathead! You're supposed to read the music, not memorize it!" The title of compilation LP released many year later reveals Newman's sense of humor about the nickname that stuck. The LP's title? It's "Mister" Fathead.
David Fathead Newman will be appearing at Pearl's with a brand new CD to boast of. On January 30, Hi Note Records will release Newman's latest effort, Life, a tribute to his close friend and colleague, the late pianist John Hicks. The CD presents Newman in an intimate setting that showcases his distinctive sound that effortlessly bridges the jazz and R&B traditions. The program includes the standards “Girl Talk,” “Alfie,” “I Can't Get Started,” “Autumn In New York” and “What A Wonderful World,” John Coltrane's “Naima” and the title track penned by Hicks.
Official Website: http://www.jazzatpearls.com
Added by in2jazz on January 26, 2007