Feb 15, 2012

September 11, 1966: A Jazz/Rock Show


The jazz world and the rock world got together Sunday night at the Fillmore Auditorium for a benefit for the jazz club, the Both/And, and proved they go together like bagels and lox.
It was the most successful show since Bill Graham has been operating at the Fillmore Auditorium. A record crowd of 2000 paid $2.50 each to attend the long show which began at 6 p.m. with the Jim Young Trio and ended at 2 a.m. with the Grateful Dead.
The groups all played well, almost as if they felt some special significance to the night. The jazz groups operated under some handicaps - the Jazz Ensemble was late, didn't go on, and then bassist Fred Marshall and drummer Jerry Granelli left. Tenor Joe Henderson didn't show.
The result of this was that drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Don Moore (from the Jones-Henderson group) played with pianist Denny Zeitlin. It was the most exciting Zeitlin performance I've ever heard, with great thunderous crashes of sound from Jones' backing Zeitlin's piano. They were joined by the remarkable Conga drummer, Bib Black, in a long improvisation that ended their set.

Singer Jon Hendricks sang his version of the comic blues, 'Mumbles' for ten minutes to end his set and got an ovation. It was an impressive moment.
The rock bands then took over. The Wildflower, a group which has shown promise from time to time, sounded more together last night than I have ever heard them. They did several excellent numbers.
The Great Society played with cohesion, drive and inventive original material featuring the interesting voice of Grace Slick and the exacting guitar of Oscar Daniels. Unfortunately, the group disbanded for personal reasons after the Sunday night show.

The set that the Airplane played was totally successful. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's blues solo and vocal on "Kansas City," the duet between Jorma and bassist Jack Cassady, the moving "Don't Let Me Down" by Marty Balin and the Paul Kantner "Fat Angel," along with Signe Anderson's thrilling voice with its warm vibrato soaring into the upper registers, combined to tear up the crowd.
Then the Grateful Dead took over. After a couple of warm-up numbers, including a fine Muddy Waters blues sung by Pig Pen, the band went into "Midnight Hour" and Pig Pen made it into a one-man blues project. He sang for almost 20 minutes, stabbing the phrases out into the crowd like a preacher, using the words to riff like a big band, building to climax after climax, coming down in a release and soaring up again. He is one of the best blues singers of his generation and Sunday night's performance was surely the equal even of the Mick Jagger vocal on "Going Home."

Rik Haines, who produced the light show for the evening, should be proud. It was one of the best and possibly the best of all the local shows. He managed to combine the jazz and rock worlds into one swirling mass of color which wrapped everything up as through we were all encased in a giant plastic bubble hurtling through space.
It was quite an evening.

(From Ralph Gleason's "On The Town" column, San Francisco Chronicle, September 13 1966.)


  1. I was not aware that the band ever shared a bill with the great Elvin Jones of the legendary John Coltrane quartet,I have never heard Kreutzman mention it and I would assume he had some interest since Jones was one of his main influences.

  2. Yes, Kreutzmann has said, "I really listened to him a lot. He was a major influence on me, no question about it."
    He didn't listen to much jazz before the Warlocks, but Phil got him into the Coltrane band.

    I've also posted an alternate review of this show by the Mojo Navigator R&R News, from their 9/18/66 issue:

    "Last Sunday night’s benefit dance at the Fillmore Auditorium to raise money for the Both/And was a resounding success both in terms of the music performed and the audience turnout. Not since the Mime Troupe parties has any audience at the Fillmore reacted with such enthusiasm to the music, nor have the musicians played with such fire and brilliance. Perhaps because a benefit is less of a commercial venture, some bond is made between an audience which is essentially contributing to a cause, and a group of musicians who are contributing their talent to the same cause. At any rate, everything swung well.
    The jazz which occupied the first five hours on the bill was excellent music and well-worth listening to, but the packed and hot atmosphere of the Fillmore was not the place in which to listen to it. Once the rock bands came on the audience, which up to that point had been desperate to dance, relaxed somewhat and made moving around the auditorium a bit easier.
    The Wildflower sounded better than ever before; although I must admit they have never been my favorite group. It will be interesting to see them on the same bill with the Byrds. The Jefferson Airplane and the Great Society turned in the two best performances by either of those groups which I’ve witnessed in the last month or so.
    The Grateful Dead, who were not billed, closed the show with a set played on other people’s equipment. The first few songs were a bit loose, but the Dead rounded into form with a good version of “Happy Home,” then did one of the best “Midnight Hour”s I’ve ever heard by them. Pigpen was in excellent voice, as was Bob Wier. With their own equipment, they might have put on a classic show; as such it was good.
    In short the Both/And benefit was a complete gas. I wish that the same sort of thing could happen more often."

    Ralph Gleason, as you'd expect, was more into the jazz than this reviewer, but both of them had similar acclaim for the rock bands, and both singled out Midnight Hour as the Dead's highlight.

    There was also a reference to this event in a Mojo interview with the Doors in August 1967:
    Mojo asks about whether audiences appreciate both jazz and rock, and all the Doors agree they don’t.
    MOJO: "Around here you find generally avant-garde jazz groups will be playing, like at the Fillmore. Mostly in benefits, like you’ll have Elvin Jones playing, then the Grateful Dead will play."
    ROBBY: "But you’ll find that when Bill Graham puts a jazz group in there, or even John Lee Hooker, that he’ll always have a big drawing group with them, cause he knows they aren’t gonna draw. He puts the jazz group in there for prestige among the hippies, mainly."
    The Doors feel jazz & rock have entirely different audiences, but Ray says that in San Francisco, “It’s a sophisticated audience up here, I think they understand jazz a little bit...there’s some appreciation of the music. But, the jazz people...I don’t know any of them that are digging rock, really.”

  3. Billy's playing in 68'-69' is heavily influenced by Jones and at times sounds just like him.I would assume that was the only bill they shared and wonder if Billy has any memory of the night,for all I know he might not have even been there when Elvin was.That Mojo interview was very funny,the author actually says like as if he were a teenage girl twice in one sentence and Robby Kreiger goes on to shock us with the revelation that there weren't a lot of jazz fans listening to that lame shit the Doors were dishing out,also I don't know many jazz fans he knew but it seems ignorant based on his personal experience to comment on something so wide ranging as jazz fans feelings on rock music.I think it would be very obvious that the two types of music had crossover listeners.I have to cop to hating the Doors music and most everything that comes out of all of their mouths,they seem to be something out a Saturday Night Live skit satirizing the 60's.