Remembering Junior Mance

October 10, 1928 – January 18, 2021


A tribute to the bluesy bop pianist

Pianist Junior Mance passed away on Jan. 18, 2021 at the age of 92.

He was born as Julian Clifford Mance, Jr. on Oct. 10, 1928 in Evanston, Illinois, started playing piano when he was five, and played his first gig when he was ten.

Known as “Junior” throughout his life (so he would not be mixed up with his father), he worked with Gene Ammons (with whom he made his recording debut) during 1947-49, and Lester Young (1949-51), served in the Army during 1951-53 (where he met Cannonball Adderley), freelanced in Chicago (getting to work with Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Stitt), and moved to New York in 1953.

Mance worked and recorded with Dinah Washington during 1954-56, the early Cannonball Adderley Quintet (1956-58), Dizzy Gillespie (1958-59), and with the Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis-Johnny Griffin group (1960-61).

After making his first albums as a leader, Mance was primarily featured with his trio on recordings and appearances, occasionally being part of all-star groups; he also taught at the New School in New York for 23 years until 2011.

A pianist equally at home playing bluesy music and bebop, Mance had his own soulful and swinging style which remained fresh even after 60 years.

Junior Mance is featured playing “Georgia On My Mind” at a 2002 concert in Germany.

-Scott Yanow

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