notes written by Jerry Atkins for a John Park LP entitled:
'If Winter Comes . . .'
caught the Kenton
Orchestra once after they returned to the United States and as
John was superb. Stan talked about an album showcasing John on alto
Willie Maiden had already begun scoring. Continuing heart difficulties,
however, forced John from the road and to his Houston residence.
to say he became a major figure in the Houston jazz scene starting a
band program at the University of Houston, organizing a Monday night
band and playing dates as often as possible.
he told me: 'I'm a jazz tenor player who makes a living as a lead
Most who knew him thought his real individuality was on alto, but I
he could equal it on tenor any time. His work with the Houston Pops
the Houston Music Theater and his ability as a contractor for dozens of
notable performers was not exactly an inborn talent. It came from all
dedicated work at being a complete musician.
of John's early tapes to my Danish friend, Arne Astrup, who is a highly
respected saxophonist in Copenhagen. His enthusiasm for John's playing
equaled by own and he never stopped playing those tapes. First it was
his fellow musicians and later for Tony Williams, owner of Spotlite
in London. When Stan Getz visited Arne, he first heard John on Tape. It
was not until 1979 that John and Stan met in person and a recording
was later discussed.
a representative for Yamaha Corporation, John moved to Dallas in June
that same year. It was my pleasure to go with him to the Sixth Annual
Lives Festival' held at the Recovery Room on September 1. Words can't
his fiery and inspired playing that night with new found friends and
musicians; Bill Tillman, Tony Klatka, Marchal Ivery, Pete Vollmers and
a very late arrival -- Red Garland. Somebody went to South Dallas to
him shortly before midnight. Red was a bit provoked about being
but that changed when he came into the Club and heard what was
I was told later that the insistent remark 'there's an altoist there
just gotta hear' was the challenge that got him there. It was all too
but he left with a huge smile.
invitation from Leon Breedan for John to appear as guest artist at
Texas University's 'One O'clock Jazz Lab Band' Fall Concert which was a
tribute to Stan Kenton who had died just a few months earlier.
date was November
20 and somehow I knew that even though this was taking me from my
I wanted to be there. I've heard 'Street of Dreams' a hundred times
several alternate performances, but each time it's always brought back
the realization of how much emotion was within John. I never knew that
chart was often played by Art Pepper until John explained to the
audience that there were interesting little "x's" and "o's" at the
of his part. He said he believed that Art must have put them there as
of a personal rating system every time he played his solo. The other
Kenton charts featuring John that night were all by Bill Holman and
from Stan's 'Contemporary Concepts' album.
quote from a
review of the concert. 'The high point was the choice of the Holman
'Cherokee,' which survives from the Charlie Parker tour with the Kenton
Orchestra decades ago. John Park was Bird, Cannonball Adderley, along
a touch of Sonny Stitt. But mostly he was John Park at his best!'
his mother and two daughters were there that night. Don Jacoby said:
unbelievable.' Leon Breedan remarked 'that guy has found some more
on the saxophone that don't exist.' Everybody was beaming and happy. I
didn't dream it was the last time I would see John.
early the morning of December 7, 1979 when John's heart stopped. I was
crushed. Two studio recording sessions were planned for early 1980. For
a long time I could only think of how sad it was that so few had known
and heard this beautiful person as I did.
when these two sessions were casually recorded, nobody ever thought of
a record. I was not present at the 1975 Kansas City Jazz Festival, John
was living in Houston and was invited to that historic city twice that
year. His first performance was so praised that he was invited back in
November. Both times he played with the steady rhythm section of
Abel and Brady and both were sponsored by the 'Friends of Jazz'. The
concert was actually called the 'John Park Jazz Concert.' We continue
search for a tape of that event.
included here was almost completely spontaneous. It was a complete
to see John late in the afternoon on that Valentine's Day. He was going
to New Orleans but agreed to stay over and play for an informal
of musicians. I made a few phone calls and it just happened.
from friends and especially Bill Craig and Gary Foster has convinced me
that this is valid material that should be shared with the jazz world.
There are a few problems but the beauty is there above everything else.
We know you'll hear it and discard the unimportant imperfections.
the way jazz should be heard.
Comes' sessions are a recorded memory of love, joy and retrospect
for those who were not fortunate to have known John.