Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Ivery, Marchel (Lee)
Ivery, Marchel (Lee), saxophonist; b. Ennis, TX, 13 September 1938. His father is Hawkins Ivery and his mother is Mary Louise Ivery. He began playing trumpet at the age of 11-12 in junior high marching band. He was being coached privately by Pete Cooley from Corsicana, TX.
Performed regularly for parties and school functions. Made the change to alto sax after hearing Charlie Parker on the radio in the early fifties. This was accomplished by borrowing an alto from a friend who lived nearby. Rapidly becoming proficient on the new horn, decided to abandon the trumpet entirely. This soon became his instrument of choice. Great jazz and blues records were played though out his childhood. All his siblings were good singers. This comprised of six girls and five boys. It was rumored that his dad was a pretty good guitarist. For the remainder of his schooling thru graduation he played alto and tenor sax. He would use another friend's tenor sax.
After graduation, Ivery joined the army which was in June 1957. He went into the field of medicine, since his mom had expressed aspirations for him in that line of work. He wanted to please and take care of his mom but his dad had expressed otherwise, such as letting him be what ever he wanted to be. Ivery did not mention the fact that he could play the sax when joined the army. He followed though on his committment to his mom. After basic training in Fort Polk, Louisana he was sent to Fort Sam Houston, TX where the medical training would begin. Ivery studied several courses relative to medicine such as bacteriology, hematology, parasitology, blood typing, urinology etc. After 4-5 months of this, Ivery was sent to Fort Dix, NJ. While studying medicine courses, he was also playing the sax as much as possible on base at various functions with fellow musicians. He finally received orders to go to Paris, France. This indeed was a defining moment in his life. The ten-day ride across the Atlantic Ocean was quite an experience for a kid who had never been this away from home. Paris was a playground for jazz musicians. Ivery was assigned to a medical clinic downtown Paris just one block from the Champ Elysee. The army at that time was paying their personnel to live off base. This was an ideal situation for him. This gave him more access to the French culture. As time passed Ivery developed a fondness for the French people. Ivery checked out the jazz scene which was a very good one at that time. Ivery would go to different jazz clubs and sat in with the French musicians as well as Americans. All this was happening during the 1957-58 time slot. Ivery began working with a quartet which included the great bassist Al King. Ivery did not know who he was the time. He found out later. All he knew as that he had a very big sound and could really play. The club name was the "tabu." This was a 4-5 night gig that went on for about 4-5 months. Ivery soon went to the "St Germaine'" club to see the great Kenny Clarke. That proved to be the most rewarding experience up to that point. Ivery reluctantly asked to sit in but was rejected by Clarke. Ivery really didn't feel to bad about it considering he was an unknown. This did not last very long. By the time the word got around town and back to Kenny "Klook" Clarke of Ivery's playing ability the opportunity somehow never availed itself again. Bud Powell came to town in latter 1958. Bud was at the "Blue Note." Ivery would visit several times during the week. The band consisted Bud, Klook, and Pierre Michelot. Bud was at the blue note for quite a while, then moved to the "Cheque Peche" on the left bank of Paris. While at Le Chat Qui Peche Ivery got the very rare opportunity to sit in with Bud by default due to the great Lucky Thompson. There was a verbal altercation between Lucky and Oscar Pettiford which allowed Ivery to be asked by Lucky to play in his place, just a couple of tunes requested by the management. The band consisted of Bud, Oscar, and G. T. Hogan. By this time the aspirations for becoming a doctor had faded.
Ivery wrote his mom and asked her to send his horn. Ivery continued to play quite regularly until returning to the states in latter 1960. Discharged, he spent a short time in New York, then returned to Texas to be with his ailing father. Ivery's father passed away in 1960. He took up the responsibility of helping his two sisters take care of his mom. Ivery continued to play in and around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in various situations. Jazz as well r&b. He went on the road with a variety of rhythm and blues bands, backing Bobby Blue Bland, Al "TNT" Braggs, Big Joe Turner, Lightning Hopkins, Little Willie John, Jimmy Reed, Johnnie Taylor and Freddie King, among others. He frequently found himself on call to be the second saxophone in groups put together for Dallas appearances by traveling stars like Sonny Stitt, Hank Crawford and James Moody. This continued until he ran into William "Red" Garland in 1966. They became friends as well as musical partners. Dallas had a rich musical climate during that period of the sixties. This is where Red grew up and Ivery grew up nearby in Ennis. Red was instrumental in allowing Ivery to get more exposure. The band consisted of bassist Charles Scott, Drummer Walter Winn, Red, and Ivery. There were several great musicians on the scene at that time, people like pianist Roosevelt Wardell, John Hardee, James Clay, David "Fathead" Newman, Dewey Redman, and Ornette Coleman. They would be in and out of the city at any given time. Red and Ivery played consistently together for several years. Beginning in the fall of 1975, their unofficial headquarters was the Recovery Room. After Garland was "rediscovered" at the Recovery Room, he occasionally took a band to New York, and Ivery was the saxophonist. They made several trips to NY at the Village Vanguard and the Lush Life clubs and many more. Ivery has also performed with Cedar Walton, Clark Terry, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers (early 1980s), Woody Shaw, George Mraz, Pharoah Sanders, Kansas Fields, Joey Defrancesco, Roy Hargrove, Hank Crawford, "Philly" Joe Jones, James Clay, Red Hollway, Al Foster, and Albert "Tootie" Heath.
Texas Tenors (with James Clay, 1987); Marchel's Mode (with Cedar Walton, 1996); Marchel Ivery Meets Joey Defrancesco (1999); Marchel Ivery "3" (2000)
Henry Franklin: We Came To Play (1985); David Newman: Blue Greens and Beans (1990)
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