Monday, February 4, 2013

Tim Price Blogging For Rico Reeds- Dick Hafer, Butch Morris. Remembering two masters who were about the music.

IMAGINATION...Commitment and a burning desire for the music. Butch Morris and Dick Hafer never met - but both in their own way possessed that trait. Dick Hafer, was a world class saxophonist who played for many of the name cutting edge big bands, died peacefully on December 15, 2012.He was born in Wyomissing, PA, on May 29, 1927.Dick's 60-plus years in the music business started with the Charlie Barnet Orchestra. He played with Woody Herman, Claude Thornhill, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton and many others. He recorded with Bobby Hackett, Charlie Mingus and Nat King Cole.
Dick also worked with such legendary vocalists as Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Johnny Hartman. He played with the studio band on the Merv Griffin Show and on Broadway shows. Dick released two albums under his name titled "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Prez Impressions" (a tribute to Lester Young).
My favorites are ;With Johnny Hartman- The Voice That Is! (Impulse!, 1964); With Charles Mingus- Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (Impulse!, 1963) - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Impulse, 1963) In 1974 he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a studio musician for Merv Griffin, whom he came West with when the show changed coasts. He released two albums under his own name in the 1990s.To me, coming from Reading,Pa and knowing Dick's world class efforts- he was an inspiration to excellence. When I first moved to NYC in 1973- he used to run a jam session on Avenue A. I got friendly with him, and learned a lot just from talking to him. Years later, we started to exchange tapes and hang out when we could. He shared some amazing Anthony Ortega tapes with some beautiful jazz oboe solos on them. Dick was one of the " old school" guys along with players like Bill Perkins that I respected that inspired me to keep on doing my jazz bassoon playing. Dick was a fan of all things jazz- and to me anyone who played with both Mingus,Pee Wee Russell,Claude Thornhill,Mulligan, Benny Goodman and Bird was cutting edge. Quiet as it's kept. He also knew Lester Young, and told me stories about Prez. He remarked about Rico reeds to me as well- and mentioned all the major players used Rico reeds or LaVoz- it was just the way it was. Of course there were some exceptions, but you get my drift.
~ IN MY MIND...Dick Hafer would of been very fascinated by Butch Morris, and Butch would of been all about Dick's oboe and English horn playing.THERE IS A REALITY THERE.....As I played bassoon with Butch Morris- and can imagine the two of them becoming fast friends on the bandstand. Both of these men embraced excellence and forward motion in a beautiful way. Guys like this are born, and I'm glad to remember both of them, know them as friends and experience music with them in various ways. It's beyond a classroom or book. It's a beautiful reality I reflect on and am proud of.
The globetrotting projects of the American composer Lawrence "Butch" Morris, who has died of cancer aged 65, drew on the talents of players from many backgrounds, including US and European jazz, Turkish sufi music, Japanese kabuki theater, and classical music, dance and poetry. Morris described his approach as "an improvised duet for ensemble and conductor". Although he steered these encounters with a baton, his sign language was a homegrown technique he dubbed "conduction" – the definition of which has variously been given as a fusion of conducting and improvisation, and of combustion, ignition and propulsion.
Morris staged more than 150 conductions (most of them simply entitled by their number in the sequence) in more than 20 countries in as many years.His methods were a hybrid of conducting gestures borrowed from Horace Tapscott, Charles Moffett, Sun Ra, Lukas Foss and the electronics and computer composer Larry Austin. Innovator and a legend in the world of music- Butch will be someone who is never forgotten. I played bassoon with Butch in various periods- he was a very unique and gifted man.
~ There was nothing like Butch Morris in music till Butch emerged. A visionary. Dick Hafer is one of the real ones from Reading, Pa and is on records with Bird, Mingus and others. These masters paid their dues, and earned their stripes the hard way. I respect them for that- and let them both be a benchmark to every player, student and fan that reads this Rico Blog. Butch, Dick...I bow deeply in your shadow.RIP gentlemen- thank you for the inspiration. ~ TIM PRICE WWW.TIMPRICEJAZZ.COM


  1. Tim, reading these articles in enlightening. It brings one back to a different time, not only with more gig and composing/arranging opportunities but with a different mindset in players. Dick and Butch appear to be artists who were not ashamed to spread their knowledge with other musicians and encourage young ones. You are doing a great job following in their footsteps with these Blogs---JC

  2. All so poignant. Beautifully said!!!!

  3. Tim,

    It's beautiful how you link two guys so generationally separated. What it shows is that all true musicians are one big family, living for the music and the communication between people it engenders. Hats off to you for commemorating them so well.