Oleo – circa 1960

Phineas Newborn Jr.

Possibly the earliest film clip of the brilliant pianist

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Phineas Newborn Jr. (1931-1989) was one of the most talented pianists in jazz history, but erratic health cut short his career.

Newborn gained experience in the early 1950s with his father’s r&b band, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton and Charles Mingus.

After arriving in New York in 1956, Newborn recorded a superb series of recordings, displaying a technique on the level of Oscar Peterson.

In this early film clip from around 1960 which was probably filmed in Europe, Phineas Newborn performs an uptempo and cooking version of “Oleo.”

Few other jazz pianists could play on this level, either creatively or technically.

-Scott Yanow


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