A fine bassist, Curtis Counce (1926-63) is best remembered for the well-documented quintet that he led during 1956-1958.
Born in Kansas City, Counce studied violin and tuba early on before settling on the string bass. He went on the road when he was 16, playing with the Nat Towles Band in Omaha. After some freelancing, Counce moved to Los Angeles in 1945, working with Johnny Otis and making his recording debut the following year with Lester Young. During the next decade he was a key member of the West Coast jazz scene, recording as a sideman with Shelly Manne, Lyle Murphy, Teddy Charles, Clifford Brown, and many others.
In 1956, Counce organized a quintet comprised of trumpeter Jack Sheldon, tenor saxophonist Harold Land, pianist Carl Perkins, and drummer Frank Butler. During a 15-month period, they recorded enough material to fill up four CDs, all of which were originally released by Contemporary and fall stylistically between West Coast cool jazz and hard bop.
Landslide is most notable for Land’s title cut and Gerald Wiggins’s "Sonar.” You Get More Bounce with Curtis Counce (originally known as Counceltation) has five jazz standards (including "Too Close for Comfort” and Charlie Parker’s "Big Foot”) plus two Counce originals. Carl’s Blues, which was dedicated to Carl Perkins who died shortly before the album was released, also mixes standards (including "Nica’s Dream” and "Love Walked In”) with originals such as the drummer’s "The Butler Did It.” The music on Sonority, consisting of previously unreleased material and alternate takes, was not released until decades later with Gerald Wilson in Sheldon’s spot on some numbers.
With a slightly different personnel, the Curtis Counce Quintet recorded a final album for the Dooto label before breaking up in 1958. The bassist continued working in the Los Angeles area until his premature death in 1963 from a heart attack.