By Tribune Staff
The late, great Memphis jazz bassist Jamil Nasser (George Joyner) was given a W.C. Handy award Sunday in Memphis. It was part of a series of activities designed to honor the standout musician whose exploits are chronicled in the new book “Upright Bass; The Musical Life & Legacy of Jamil Nasser” by his son Muneer Nasser, who is also a musician as well as an author and historian. There’s also a companion CD available titled “A Soldier’s Story.” It features Muneer Nasser’s band.
“I would love to bring this untold jazz history to the many people who love jazz and those curious about this history.,” Muneer Nasser said recently. “Many people don’t realize the activism that my father & many others in this genre participated in. Jazz musicians working and traveling worldwide confronted many issues during segregation. They are often the unsung heroes during their time.”
“Upright Bass” chronicles Nasser’s evolution from a young bassist on Beale Street to a top-flight figure on the New York Jazz scene. Miles Davis harbored curiosity about the environment that produced Jamil and three Memphis musicians he hired in 1963. Nasser’s volume offers captivating accounts and untold stories about piano giants Phineas Newborn and Oscar Dennard. He also shares anecdotes about his mentors: Papa Jo Jones, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Oscar Pettiford, and Ray Brown. In addition, Jamil Nasser describes his decade long tenure with Ahmad Jamal, which included a life-threatening imprisonment in South America. Finally, he discusses his plight as an outspoken jazz artist fighting for greater union representation, the perils of heroin addiction in the music industry, media access, healthcare, and self-ownership.
“A Soldier’s Story” is a musical tribute to Jamil Nasser. The zeal communicated in this music reflects not only his love and respect for his father’s musical and humanitarian efforts, but those of the musicians selected for this recording. The featured players include pianist Allyn Johnson, saxophonist Elijah Easton, bassist James King, and drummer John Lamkin III. The compositions are a blend of originals and such standards as “Caravan” and Cherokee.” Clips of the tracks can be heard on CD baby and Jazziz new releases
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/muneernasser and https://www.jazziz.com/new-releases/a-soldiers-story/