Ike Quebec Biography

17 August 1918, Newark, New Jersey, USA, d. 16 January 1963, New York City, New York, USA. Quebec played piano at first, then took up the tenor saxophone in 1940. He worked in several well-known bands, including outfits led by Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge and, later, Cab Calloway, with whom he stayed from 1944-51. He also led his own small groups in the 40s, recording several sessions for Blue Note Records, the first of which produced the hit ‘Blue Harlem’. A close friend of the label’s co-founder, Alfred Lion, Quebec advised Blue Note on the bebop scene, recommending that they record both Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.

For much of the 50s, Quebec struggled against heroin addiction and worked various day jobs, including a stint as a taxi driver. He returned to the music business in 1959, becoming an A&R man for Blue Note and also recording for them again - first making several juke-box singles, then a series of albums that showcased his expertise at slow blues and soulful ballads. He also guested on albums by Sonny Clark, Grant Green, Jimmy Smith and vocalist Dodo Green. In January 1963, he died of lung cancer, and, for many years, appeared to be one of the forgotten men of jazz. Then, in the 80s, Blue Note issued some previously unreleased sessions, while Mosaic Records produced lavishly packaged compilations both of his 40s Blue Note recordings and the later juke-box singles. The appearance of this material sparked a new interest in, and welcome re-evaluation of, Quebec’s shapely, affecting, big-toned tenor playing.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.