Tenor of the Times

For years he humbly backed up jazz greats like Red Garland and Art Blakey. Today, Dallas saxman Marchel Ivery is a player in his own right.

UNLESSRE A JAZZ FANATIC—being a casual listener isn’t enough—you probably haven’t heard of Marchel Ivery, the self-effacing Dallas tenor saxophonist. It’s not so much that 57-year-old Ivery has slipped through the cracks as that he has conducted his entire career between them.

Of course, Dallas pianist Red Garland knew who Ivery was. When Garland reemerged internationally in 1978—two decades after playing alongside John Coltrane in Miles Davis’ classic group—Ivery was his pet project. Art Blakey knew Ivery too; he tried repeatedly, with only fleeting success, to talk him into joining his Jazz Messengers. Composer and pianist Cedar Walton, who also hails from Dallas and is a veteran of Blakey’s band, played sideman on Marchel’s Mode (Leaning House), Ivery’s first-ever album, which was released in 1994. And on the just-released Marchel Ivery Meets Joey DeFrancesco, Ivery slices deep grooves with a

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