Born: August 17, 1918 | Died: January 16, 1963 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
“This incontestably superior musician has been almost totally ignored in the chronicling of the musical form to which he has contributed so much. Quebec was a tenor man of the Hawkins school with a big tone and firm, vigorous style. I hope this new perspective of the contribution Ike Quebec has made to jazz will help to bring a little lightness to his soul and much more recognition to his name.” Leonard Feather
An accomplished dancer and pianist, he switched to tenor sax as his primary instrument in his early 20s, and quickly earned a reputation as a promising player. His recording career started in 1940, with the Barons of Rhythm. 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 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) and, due to his exceptional sight reading skills, was an uncredited impromptu arranger for many Blue Note sessions.
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 and soul jazz.
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, and this was recently reissued as “The Complete Blue Note 45 Sessions.” As strange as it sounds, these cuts are all excellent, as Quebec rose to the occasion and delivered the goods.
He made some reputable recordings in the early ‘60’s as “The Art of Ike Quebec,” “Heavy Soul,” and “It Might as well be Spring.” These were all recorded and released in 1961. These albums led up to his masterpiece for Blue Note, “Blue and Sentimental,” (1961) this collection of ballads offers him plenty of room and the tempo is suited to his heavy rolling sound. Quebec went on to record some more sessions for Blue Note going into 1962.
Quebec's comeback was cut short by his death from lung cancer, in 1963.
Source: James Nadal