The controversy over who discovered America doesn't touch this historical American jazz figure, whose full name was Joseph Morris Christopher Columbus. He sometimes appears in credits as Joe Morris, but shouldn't be mistaken with the free jazz guitar player of the same name. This Joe Morris, and we'll stick to Chris Columbus from here on in and never mind the wrath of Queen Isabella, is an early 20th century jazz figure, although he kept playing well into the '70s, the decade as well as his age at the time. He also founded something of a musical dynasty, fathering jazz musician Sonny Payne. Columbus was active as a bandleader for two decades beginning in the early '30s, including a residency at the Savoy Ballroom when it was the hippest music spot in town. From the mid-40s until 1952, he was a regular member of Louis Jordan's wailing combos, laying down a beat that is at times positively frightening; hence song titles such as "Brother, Beware." (Actually, the song is a warning about women, not rhythms). As rock music began to explode in the early '60s, Columbus was playing the funky organ combo of Wild Bill Davis. It was a sound that was considered old-fashioned at the time, and all involved were unconcerned about that opinion and unaware that their sound would be revived as an example of hip acid jazz rhythms in the 21st century. In 1967, he worked with Duke Ellington, including a plethora of recording credits. The following decade, the drummer decided to take over band leadership duties again, although he took time out to tour Europe with his old boss, Davis, in 1972. While the tour lingered in France, he took part in several different recording sessions involving mainstream veterans such as trombonist Al Grey, organist Milt Buckner, and the legendary Chicago guitarist Floyd Smith, a regular playing partner of Columbus' in the Davis trios. In several interviews, the drummer chose a '50s live recording with Davis, Wild Bill Davis at Birdland, as the high point of his recording career.
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