On May 29, 1956, saxophonist Jimmy Tyler records “Pink Clouds” and “Indian Love Call” for the Federal label, backed by a crack studio band.

Label of Federal 12275

Jimmy Tyler’s “Pink Clouds,” Federal 12275, 1956

Saxophonist Jimmy Tyler, equally at home on alto or tenor, was an important figure in Boston jazz from the mid 1940s to the early 1960s (more here and here). He was active on the bandstand, and often busy behind the scenes as well.

Ralph Bass signed Tyler to the Federal label, an R&B-oriented subsidiary of King Records, in 1952. Between 1952 and 1957, Tyler released 14 sides for Federal on 78 and/or 45. More recorded material remains unissued. Session details are hard to come by in some cases.

The four 1952 sides featured a group that formed from the Sabby Lewis band that broke up in December 1949. “Tippin’ in” (Federal 12067) in particular sounds Lewis-like, not surprising because trumpeter Gene Caines arranged for Lewis before he jumped to Tyler’s group. He continued to write arrangements for Tyler even after he left the band. Baritone saxophonist Bill Dorsey is also much in evidence. The best of the lot was the easy-swinging “Little Jim” (Federal 12080), which Tyler co-wrote with Little Benny Harris when that trumpeter was part of the Tyler group in 1951-52.

Some of these Jimmy Tyler records are rather run-of-the-mill Federal honking arrangements, and the saxophonist is at his most frantic, bulling his way through numbers like “Callin’ All Chickens” (Federal 12199).

But on the May 1956 sides Tyler excels, especially on his own tune, “Pink Clouds” (Federal 12275), a song with a solid arrangement and a truly good studio band. It included vibraphonist Teddy Charles, with guitarist Mickey Baker, pianist Andy Gibson, bassist Abie Baker, and drummer Cliff Leeman. I’m not sure how Charles ended up on this date, probably just for the paycheck. He was involved in music far more sophisticated than this in mid-1956, but there he was with Baker and Leeman, all strong jazz players. There is nothing frantic about Tyler’s playing and he avoids the cliches that limit his 1954 work. Baker gets a chorus, and old pro Leeman does a masterful job of driving the band.

In the late 1940s, Tyler played much like Illinois Jacquet, and was sometimes called “the wild man of the tenor saxophone.” Although he certainly played on the wild side sometimes, when he held that bar-walking persona in check, he was a better saxophonist. As he matured as a saxophonist, there was more Jimmy Forrest or Lockjaw Davis about him than Red Prysock.

Here is a list of Jimmy Tyler’s Federal recordings, by number, with composer credits and dates when known:

12067 – Tip Lightly (Jimmy Tyler – Bill Dorsey) / You’ll Never Know (Warren – Gordon) – 1952
12080 – Take It Away (Glover – Morgan – Harris) / Little Jim (Jimmy Tyler – Benny Harris) – 1952
12199 – Callin’ All Chickens (Jimmy Tyler) / Skeedle Lum Bum (Jimmy Tyler – Martin) – 1954
12203 – ‘Cause You’re My Lover (Goldie Tyler) / Dream You Fool – 1954
12234 – Fool ‘Em Devil (Jimmy Tyler) / Stardust (Charmichael – Parish) – 1955
12275 – Pink Clouds (Jimmy Tyler) – Indian Love Call (Friml – Hammerstein – Harbach) – 1956
12294 – Sha-Gon (Jimmy Tyler – Smith – Gil Askey) / Toddy Roo (Rudy Toombs) – 1957

I added “Pink Clouds” to my YouTube channel, so here it is with Jimmy on tenor: