In 1959, the pianist Dizzy Sal, who had been born Edward Saldanha, was a student at the Lenox School of Music in the Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts. The summer school attracted some of the brightest young jazz talents from the US – and across the world. Sal’s classmates included the brilliant saxophonist Ornette Coleman and the quirky trumpet player Don Cherry.
Each year, the class would end with a student performance. Sal’s turn in the spotlight came on August 29, 1959. The programme (click here for details) includes an original tune he composed called Relaxin’ at Music Inn, named for the resort in which the Lenox School was held. Unfortunately, it’s missing from the album of that evening’s programme. Archivists believe that perhaps not all the performances were recorded and that some bits of the tape may have gone missing.
So here he is performing Wes Montgomery’s Jingles. Gary McFarland plays vibes, while Attilla Zoller is on guitar.
Last Friday, Taj Mahal Foxtrot was launched in Bangalore by Maria Saldanha Vinda, sister of the maverick pianist Edward “Dizzy Sal” Saldanha. That’s a photo of the Saldanha family band in 1955, with Maria, the vocalist, in that gorgeous gown. Dizzy is in the beret.
Dizzy Sal, as readers of the book know, received a scholarship to study at the Berklee School of Music in the late 1950s. His classmates included the vibraphonist Gary McFarland, the trumpet player Paul Kelly and the Rhodesian composer Michael Gibbs.
As part of its programme, the college ran Berklee Records, a project that served as a training exercise both for its student musicians and for the sound engineers on its rolls. Each year, it issued new records as part of a series called Jazz in the Classroom. Volume V, issued in 1961, features Sal and his classmates playing new arrangements of tunes composed by the saxophonist Benny Golson.
Sal features on this tune, Haasan’s Dream, alongside Dan Nolan (trumpet), Ted Casher (tenor), Mike Gibbs (trombone), Peter Spassov (drums), Pearson Beckwith (bass) and Bill Fitch (conga). The band was conducted by Berklee instructor Herb Pomeroy, who taught arranging, improvisation and jazz history.