Grachan Moncur Iii

Grachan Moncur III, a son of Al Cooper and Grachan, was born at Sydenham Hospital in New York City on June 3, 1937. He was a member the Savoy Sultans’ bass section. His father played with Billie Holiday and Diana Washington among other notables. Frank H. McDuffie Jr., a highly skilled trombonist and student, was Grachan’s first musical teacher at Laurinburg Institute. He began trombone playing with the all-state marching bands and eventually joined the jazz combo. He quickly rose to be the leader of Laurinburg Jazz Septet and musical director for Laurinburg’s touring musical revue, which featured singers, dancers, and other talented performers. He attended the Juillard School of Music and Manhattan School of Music after graduating from Laurinburg Institute. He received academic training, but he also played the lead and co-leader in various bands that featured Wayne Shorter, Gary Bartz and Blue Mitchell. He also jammed at jazz spots like Birland, The Five spot, Turbo Billage, Cafe Bohemia, and Count Basies. Grachan was also a member of the Ray Charles Orchestra. From 1959 to 1961, Grachan was a member of the Ray Charles Orchestra. Benny Golson noticed Grachan’s exceptional solo performances at a Ray Charles concert at the Apollo Theatre and immediately hired him as the trombonist in the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet. He was a member of the Jazztet from 1962 to 1962. Grachan was appointed musical director of Jackie McLean Quintet, which included Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Eddie Khan (bass) and Tony Williams (drums). Grachan assumed the leadership of the group after Jackie McLean’s departure. Under Grachan’s direction, the group performed at many famous clubs such as the Blue Coronet and Slugs in Brooklyn for many years. Clifford Jarvis and Herbie Hancock were part of the group under Grachan’s direction on several occasions. During Jackie McLean/Grachan Moncur III era historical Jazz albums were recorded. One Step Beyond, Evolution and Destination Out, Some Other Stuff as well as the classic jazz series double album Hipnosis were all recorded during that period. These Blue Note albums featured Grachan as a composer and trombonist. This led to the acceptance of “Avant Garde”, which allowed other musicians to record new music on the Blue Note Label. Grachan’s extraordinary talents allowed him to perform as well as show his musical genius in the Broadway production of Blues for Mr. Charlie by James Baldwin. He also performed with Sonny Rollins during this time, playing at the Plugged Nickle in Chicago and the Village Vanguard in New York City. Also, Grachan played in concerts throughout the New York metropolitan area. Grachan joined the Joe Henderson/Kenny Dorham Sextet after the European tour of “Blues for Mr. Charlie”. After twenty-years of playing with the best jazz musicians in the world, Grachan began a new, challenging mission. He was appointed to the Newark Community School of the Arts as composer-in-residence at the largest Art Institute. This allowed him to reflect on his life and plan for the future. He has recently made appearances with Change of the Century Orchestra. Sunny Murray and Philly Joe Jones founded the orchestra in memory of John Coltrane. He also enjoys performing in ethnic groups and college appearances. Grachan believes that his maturity has increased his ability and dedication to jazz. He looks forward to continuing his education and to recording and touring with his own band. from

Leave a Comment