In the early 1950's, jukebox was becoming a fundamental way to foster jazz, and companies were aware of that. Blue Note had just experienced an amazing success thanks to Horace Silver's hit "The Preacher/Doodlin'" (BN 1630). Producer Alfred Lion, astonished by the popularity the 45 had gained, decided to invest more in 45 RPMs. At some point, he chose to issue Quebec's "Blue Monday" and "Blue Friday", a piece 1st recorded in 1944. It became an unexpected hit, "the sort of records that any bar in the black neighborhood's wanted on its jukebox". That hit marked the point of departure for Ike Quebec's career at Blue Note.
Critic Alex Henderson wrote, "Though he was never an innovator, Quebec had a big, breathy sound that was distinctive and easily recognizable, and he was quite consistent when it came to down-home blues, sexy ballads, and up-tempo aggression."
Born Ike Abrams Quebec in Newark, New Jersey, United States, and an accomplished dancer and pianist, he switched to tenor sax as his primary instrument in his early twenties, and quickly earned a reputation as a promising player. His recording career started in 1940, with the Barons of Rhythm.
Later on, he recorded or performed with Frankie Newton, Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, Trummy Young, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins. Between 1944 and 1951, he worked intermittently with Cab Calloway. He recorded for Blue Note records in this era, and also served as a talent scout for the label (helping pianists Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell come to wider attention). Due to his exceptional sight reading skills, Quebec was also an uncredited impromptu arranger for many Blue Note sessions.
Due in part to struggles with drug addiction (but also due to the fading popularity of big band music), Quebec recorded only sporadically during the 1950s, though he still performed regularly. He kept abreast on new developments in jazz, and his later playing incorporated elements of hard bop, bossa nova, and soul jazz. Quebec also occasionally recorded on piano, as on his 1961 Blue & Sentimental album, where he alternated between tenor and piano, playing the latter behind Grant Green's guitar solos.
In 1959 he began what amounted to a comeback with a series of albums on the Blue Note label. Blue Note executive Alfred Lion was always fond of Quebec's music, but was unsure how audiences would respond to the saxophonist after a decade of low visibility. In the mid-to-late 1950s, Blue Note issued a series of Quebec singles for the juke box market; audiences responded well, leading to a number of warmly-received albums.Quebec's comeback was cut short by his death from lung cancer.
1 Light Reprieve 4:39
2 Buzzard Lope 6:17
3 Blue Monday 5:05
4 Zonky 4:34
5 Later For The Rock 4:37
6 Sweet And Lovely 4:19
7 Dear John 6:53
8 Blue Friday 5:05
9 Blues on Trial 9:48
Ike Quebec (tenor sax)
Edwin Swanston (Hammond B3 organ)
Clifton "Skeeter" Best (guitar)
Charles "Sonny" Wellesley (bass)
Les Jenkins (drums)
Recorded: by Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, July 1, 1959
Note: The July 1 session marks the last day of recording at the original Van Gelder Studio, based in Hackensack (his parents living room and dining room). Van Gelder would move the studio to Englewood Cliffs (20x larger space) soon after.