Interview with Dave Oliphant about Texan Jazz

Interview with Dave Oliphant

Download the mp3 here

The music at the end this interview is “I’m an Old Cow Hand” composed by Johnny Mercer and recorded by Fairfield,Texas-born (1924) Kenny Durham on January 10, 1960. For a unique “discography” of Durham’s work, see Oliphant’s biography-poem KD: A Jazz Biography

Books by Dave Oliphant

Book: Texan Jazz

Book: Jazz Mavericks of the Lone State State

Book: KD: A Jazz Biography

Documentary about Dave Oliphant by Kanya Lyons

A documentary short about Native Texas Poet Dave Oliphant. This documentary was filmed, edited, produced and directed by Kanya Lyons in 2018.

Oliphant was born in Fort Worth in 1939. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from Lamar University and the University of Texas, respectively, and his Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. His primary reading and writing interest has always been poetry, but he has also written four books on jazz (primarily by Texas musicians).

He has translated poetry from Spanish and was a winner of the Texas Institute of Letters book translation award in 2011. In addition to fourteen collections of his own poetry, among them The Pilgrimage: Selected Poems 1962-2012, he has edited three anthologies of Texas poetry and one of Chilean poetry. For forty years he contributed essays on and reviews of Texas poetry to various state literary magazines, and 55 of those pieces were collected in 2015 in his Generations of Texas Poets.

He retired from the University of Texas at Austin after serving for 30 years in various capacities, from assistant professor to editor of a scholarly journal, senior lecturer, and coordinator of the Freshman Seminars Program. He lives in Cedar Park, Texas with his wife and muse, Maria.

Click hear to listen to Dave Oliphant reading his poetry

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

Music credits:

The Jazz on the Tube podcast theme song is “Mambo Inferno” performed by The Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra conducted by Bobby Sanabria from the CD ¡Que Viva Harlem!

At the end of today’s interview, we featured “I’m an Old Cow Hand”, written by Johnny Mercer and performed by Kenny Dorham (Xanadu Records, The Kenny Dorham Memorial Album) recorded January 10, 1960 (4:12)

P.S. Our unique programming is made possible by help from people like you. Learn how you can contribute to our efforts here: Support Jazz on the Tube

The Hero’s Fall I Fell For – Poems by Dave Oliphant

Mr. Oliphant has a special musical gift for all buyers of the book. If you order the book, please save and send Mr. Oliphant a copy of your electronic receipt with a copy of your physical mailing address via email and he will mail it to you. You can reach him here: dave_oliphant AT yahoo DOT com

(Note: You can preview several of the poems below.)

Excerpts from Five Versions of the 12th Street Rag (1967)

Duke Ellington, “Twelfth Street Rag” (Decca, The Original Decca Recordings: Early Ellington), recorded January 14, 1931 (2:58)

Fats Waller and His Rhythm, “Twelfth Street Rag” (Pickwick International Records, Ain’t Misbehaving), recorded June 24, 1935 (2:45)

Count Baise, “Twelfth Street Rag” (Jazz Roots, Jumpin’ at the Woodside), recorded Aril 5, 1939 (3:o8)

From Jazz God and Freshman English (1973)

Dizzy Gillespie, “A Night in Tunisia” (The RCA Victor Encyclopedia of Recorded Jazz, Album 5: Gil to Hig) recorded February 22, 1945 with Don Byas on tenor saxophone (3:08)

Denton (1994)

Euel Box Quintet, “Toddlin'” (Columbia Transcriptions, North Texas State College Jazz Concert), recorded 1957 (3:12)

Shorty Rogers and His Giants, “Planetarium” (Atlantic, Martians Come Back!), recorded March 26, 1955, with Texan Jimmy Giuffre on tenor sax (3:39)

Three Musicians Perform their Freedom (2003)

Charles Mingus, “Ysabel’s Table Dance” (RCA, Tijuana Moods), recorded July 16, 1958 (11:35)

Jazz by the Boulevard (2013)

David “Fathead” Newman, “Hard Times” (Collectibles, Fathead), released in 1958 with Ray Charles on piano (4:43)

The Jazz on the Tube interview with Dave Oliphant

Click here to listen to the interview with Dave Oliphant

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

P.S. Our unique programming is made possible by help from people like you. Learn how you can contribute to our efforts here: Support Jazz on the Tube

Topsy – The history of jazz in one tune

Count Basie and his orchestra, recorded in NYC August 9, 1937.

Written and arranged by Eddie Durham, one of the most important and underappreciated artists in jazz and American music history.

Irish, Mexican and Afro-American on his father’s side and Native American on his mother’s, in his childhood Durham grew up wearing his hair long and braided, Native American-style.

Born and raised in rural San Marcos, Texas (1906), he learned to ride, drive cattle, shoot and hunt rattlesnakes. He was also a fine carpenter.

One of the legendary Oklahoma City Blue Devils, he was a mainstay of the Count Basie band.

A first rate composer and arranger, he wrote for Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller and is reputed to have been the key arranger on “In the Mood”, the anthem of the Big Band Swing era.

As if that weren’t enough, Durham was the pioneer of the jazz electric guitar (Charlie Christian quoted him in his early recordings). Durham was also a virtuosic trombone player who invented the Non-Pressure technique for the trombone.

Here he is at age 73 (born 1906). This was filmed in 1979.

Serious guitar players know that Django Rheinhardt wasn’t the only inspiration for today’s guitar-based “Gypsy Jazz” movement.

Here’s some folks from around the world honoring Durham’s art with their own versions of “Topsy.”

Arranged by Alexander Vinitsky (Russia)

From the Netherlands

Henk Sprenger guitar, Gideon Tazelaar (13) baritone sax, Stefan Bos (15) piano, , playing Topsy by Eddie Durham.

Recorded 30 July in Hilversum Netherlands

Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (1938) – both takes

Recorded in New York City, NY September 27, 1938. Eddie Durham takes a solo – on electric guitar – in this jewel-like ensemble piece with Lester Young (tenor sax, clarinet) Buck Clayton (trumpet) Eddie Durham (guitar) Freddie Green (guitar) Walter Page (bass) Jo Jones (drums)

Listen to the intro. You’ll hear the riff that became “In the Mood.”

A long interview with Eddie Durham by Stanley and Helen Dance (The audio quality is terrible and it’s unedited, but contains a lot of gems.)

Click here for the Dave Oliphant bio of Eddie Durham

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

P.S. Our unique programming is made possible by help from people like you. Learn how you can contribute to our efforts here: Support Jazz on the Tube


A Tribute to Kenny Dorham by poet Dave Oliphant

Where two arts meet in love and respect

The jazz historian and poet Dave Oliphant reads selections from his epic poem “KD: A Jazz Biography”, his tribute to trumpet great and master musician Kenny Dorham, born August 30, 1924 in Post Oak, Texas. Some reviews:

“From the unquestioned authority on jazz music by Texans comes what is surely the most unusual book any music lover will read this year. KD is a 200-page poem, a verse biography of Texas trumpeter Kenny Dorham, who stands behind only Ornette Coleman as the state’s most gifted jazz artist. The great drummer Art Blakey called him the ‘uncrowned trumpet king,’ and writer Scott Yanow echoed what dozens of critics have noted since Dorham’s death at age 48 of kidney disease in 1972, that he was ‘almost famous for being underrated.’ So it’s poetic justice—in this case, that’s not a metaphor—that Dave Oliphant has crowned Dorham with a peerless tribute.” –

“Trying to put jazz into words can be tricky, like setting James Joyce to music. But Texas author, poet, and jazz expert Dave Oliphant has embraced a novel way to do so that is adventurous, just a little odd, and entirely satisfying. . . . So Oliphant riffs with four lines that rhyme. And like a great musician, he can make a deceptively simple line speak eloquently. . . . Thanks to Dave Oliphant’s slightly quirky but richly rewarding quatrains we have the Rubaiyat of Kenny Dorham.” —Foreword (June 2012)

Dave Oliphant is a native Texan poet, a recently retired professor from the University of Texas–Austin, and the editor and publisher of Prickly Pear Press. He is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, including Backtracking, Memories of Texas Towns and Cities, and Maria’s Poems, as well as a collection of 16 essays entitled Jazz Mavericks of the Lone Star State. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, Cecil Payne

Portrait of an artist

Kenny Dorham with Eric Dolphy

Kenny Dorham shows Horance Silver a voicing on the piano at a rehearsal for Dorham’s Afro-Cuban session,
the Village Vanguard, NYC, January 1955
The repeat the book order info again AFTER the photo

– Ken McCarthy

The Young Men from Memphis – Phil Schaap

Memphis produced George Coleman, Hank Crawford, Booker Little, Phineas Newborn, Jr, Jamil Nasser, Charles Lloyd, Harold Mabern, and Louis Smith. And that’s the shortlist.

What the heck was going on there? The great Phil Schaap explains.

More Phil Schaap here:


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San Francisco

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The City of Gabriels


Texan Jazz

Ornette – Deep from the Heart of Texas

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. Our unique programming is made possible by help from people like you. Learn how you can contribute to our efforts here: Support Jazz on the Tube

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