By 1961 he had a great resume, including stints with Dizzy Gillespie and two albums under his own name, and it was time to go out on his own. Since that time he has led his own trios and has worked in duo settings with bass players. He has also established working partnerships with other musicians, among them baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley, with whom he has recorded a very nice album of Thelonious Monk tunes.
Over the last four decades, Junior Mance has worked on his own, playing, recording, and teaching, while sometimes working for other leaders. His repertoire is quite varied, but he is best known as a blues player, somewhat like his occasional piano companion Ray Bryant. Both of them have found ways to combine modern harmonies with the emotional inflections of the blues and thus have created styles that cannot be easily pigeonholed.
On February 11 and 12, Mance joins our own master of the blues, Mark Braun (Mr. B), for Mr. B's annual birthday bash at the Kerrytown Concert House.
[Originally published in February, 2005.]