Carl Perkins (pianist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Carl Perkins
Born (1928-08-16)August 16, 1928
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Died March 17, 1958(1958-03-17) (aged 29)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres West Coast jazz
Instruments Piano
Years active 1948–1958
Associated acts Curtis Counce

Carl Perkins (August 16, 1928 – March 17, 1958)[1][2] was an American jazz pianist.


Perkins was born in Indianapolis but worked mainly in Los Angeles. He is best known for his performances with the Curtis Counce Quintet, which also featured Harold Land, Jack Sheldon and drummer Frank Butler. He also performed with Tiny Bradshaw, Big Jay McNeely in 1948-49, and played dates with Miles Davis in 1950. Following a short stint in the Army (January 1951 to November 1952), he worked intermittently with the Oscar Moore Trio (1953-1955) and the Clifford BrownMax Roach group in 1954. He recorded with Frank Morgan in 1955, and with his own group in 1956.[3] Perkins composed the standard "Grooveyard".[1][4]

His playing was influenced by his polio-affected left arm, which he held parallel to the keyboard.[5] He used his elbow to play deep bass notes. He was thus known as "the crab".[6]

He died of a drug overdose at age 29,[2] in Los Angeles, California. He recorded one album, Introducing Carl Perkins, and a short series of singles under his own name. Authors Paul Tanner, Maurice Gerow, and David Megill cite Perkins as one of the best "funky", or hard bop, piano players, but his early death prevented him from leaving a legacy.[7]


As leader[edit]

  • Summertime & Lullaby in Rhythm (Savoy, 1949) Single, with Edwin Perkins (b), Herb Williams (d)
  • The Rosary & Ave Maria (Savoy, 1949) Single, with unknown bass and drums
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & I'll Never Smile Again (Savoy, 1949) Single, with unknown bass and drums
  • Introducing Carl Perkins (Dootoo, 1955–56) Perkins's only album as leader. With Leroy Vinnegar (b), Lawrence Marable (d)

Shared leadership[edit]

  • Jazz Pianists Galore (Pacific, 1957) Perkins plays on one track
  • Piano Playhouse (Mode, 1957) Perkins plays four solo tracks; others are by Jimmy Rowles, Lou Levy, Paul Smith, Gerald Wiggins

As sideman[edit]

With Pepper Adams

With Chet Baker and Art Pepper

With Clifford Brown and Max Roach

  • The Best Of Max Roach And Clifford Brown In Concert! (GNP, 1954)

With Curtis Counce

With Buddy DeFranco

  • Plays Benny Goodman (Verve, 1957)
  • Wholly Cats (Verve, 1957)
  • Closed Session (Verve, 1957)
  • I Hear Benny Goodman And Artie Shaw (Verve, 1957)

With Victor Feldman

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Dexter Gordon

With Jim Hall

With Illinois Jacquet

With Richie Kamuca

  • Richie Kamuca Quartet (Mode, 1957)

With Harold Land

With Oscar Moore

  • Oscar Moore Trio (Skylark, 1954)

With Frank Morgan

  • Gene Norman Presents Frank Morgan (GNP, 1955)

With Art Pepper

  • The Complete Art Pepper Aladdin Recordings (Blue Note, 1957) The Perkins recordings were released long after recording

With Stuff Smith

  • Have Violin, Will Swing (Verve, 1957)

With Leroy Vinnegar


  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. Carl Perkins at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b Gambit Records liner notes (2006) indicate that Perkins died of a drug overdose on May (not March) 17, 1958.
  3. ^ Feather, L. (1960). The New Edition of the Encyclopedia of Jazz. Horizon Press: New York.
  4. ^ Wynn, Ron (1994), Ron Wynn, ed., All Music Guide to Jazz, M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, p. 521, ISBN 0-87930-308-5 
  5. ^ Koenig, Lester (2006). "Original liner notes". Complete Studio Recordings (booklet). Curtis Counce. Andorra: Gambit Records. 69258. 
  6. ^ McKay, George (2013). Shakin' All Over: Popular Music and Disability. University of Michigan Press. p. 28. ISBN 9780472052097. 
  7. ^ Tanner, Paul O. W.; Maurice Gerow; David W. Megill (1988) [1964]. "Hard Bop — Funky". Jazz (6th ed.). Dubuque, Iowa: William C. Brown, College Division. p. 116. ISBN 0-697-03663-4. 

External links[edit]