Released on Strata Records in 1974, Live ’n Well was recorded at the University of Michigan’s student union almost a decade earlier, in April 1965. Captured on tape by Strata label head Kenny Cox, produced and edited by Bud Spangler, and nominally led by drummer Bert Myrick, the date reflects highly on every performer involved. Superior numbers like the simmering “Scorpio’s Child” make the album comparable to works by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, who utilized an identical quintet configuration of trombone, tenor sax, piano, bass, and drums.
  
In fact, had Live ‘n Well been released around the moment of its conception, it may have been marketed as the work of the George Bohanon/Ronnie Fields Quintet, then one of the most influential jazz combos in Detroit.

By the time of the album’s release, both Bohanon and Fields had left Detroit. Fields fell out of music, while Bohanon deployed his sweetly swooping trombone as an in-demand session man on seminal recordings by Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Bert Myrick remained in Detroit, a city increasingly inhospitable for a jazz purist like himself. Regardless, Live ‘n Well is a phenomenal showcase of Myrick’s textured and dynamic playing, putting him in the class of progressive timekeepers like Chico Hamilton and Roy Haynes.

 It was another drummer, Elvin Jones, who had been one of Myrick’s key influences. Myrick initially met Jones in the early 1950s, when Jones was gigging with the Billy Mitchell Quintet in Detroit. They became fast friends. Legend has it that Jones would open the club’s window so that Myrick and his buddies—hanging out on the sidewalk without enough money to come in—could enjoy the music. It was later that Myrick, having served in the Combat Engineering division in the Korean War, returned to Detroit and dedicated himself to music.

Known for his powerful hands and gentle demeanor, devoted family man Bert Myrick maintained a taste in purple cars, and favored purple suits to match. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 80.

BERT MYRICK, Live ‘n Well

Personnel:

Will Austin : Bass
George Bohanon : Trombone
Bert Myrick : Drums
Kenny Cox : Piano
Ronnie Fields : Tenor Sax

Key Track: “Scorpio’s Child”

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