Tag Archives: Cal Massey

Red Rooster

According to the radio documentary “Tell Me How Long Trane’s Been Gone,” in 1957 John Coltrane kicked his heroin habit cold turkey by day and played at the Red Rooster at night. The West Philly jazz club opened circa 1952.

McCoy Tyner met Coltrane at the Red Rooster when he was working a gig with the Cal Massey Band. It was here that Tyner played with Trane for the first time. From a 1997 news article:

It was at the Red Rooster, a now defunct jazz club on 52nd and Market streets in West Philadelphia, where Massey, a long-time Coltrane friend, introduced Tyner to the saxophonist. Later that afternoon, the club owner asked Coltrane if he would play the next week at the club. Coltrane didn’t have a rhythm section — in fact, he didn’t have a working band — so, with Massey’s blessing, he borrowed Massey’s band, which included Tyner and Garrison.

In an essay in “Lost Shrines of Jazz,” noted author and scholar James G. Spady wrote:

Saxophonist and Coltrane collaborator Archie Shepp, hailed in the ‘60s as one of the jazz purveyors of the so-called “new thing,” reflected on Philly’s importance to him:

I don’t want to leave out Clarence “C” Sharp, who was a tremendous influence and has helped me off and on. He was one of the main teachers in the Philadelphia school. . . . The first time I heard Trane, I was with Reggie Workman. We went to hear Coltrane at the Red Rooster out in West Philly. McCoy Tyner was playing with Trane that night. He [Coltrane] had a lot of problems with his teeth. (I didn’t know this until much later.) He didn’t play much. But what he played was so unusual. I was a bit frustrated by that. I had no idea at that time just how enormous this man’s capabilities were. One of my friends said, “That’s Philly Joe, the cat that went on to play with Miles.” He played drums that night.

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