Julian Clifford Mance, Jr. (known as Junior Mance, born October 10, 1928) is an American jazz pianist and composer.
Early life (1928–1947)
Mance was born in Evanston, Illinois. When he was five years old, Mance started playing piano on an upright in his family's home in Evanston. His father, Julian, taught Mance to play stride piano and boogie-woogie. With his father's permission, Mance had his first professional gig in Chicago at the age of ten when his upstairs neighbor, a saxophone player, needed a replacement for a pianist who was ill. Mance was known to his family as "Junior" (to differentiate him from his father), and the nickname stuck with him throughout his professional career.
Mance's mother encouraged him to study medicine at nearby Northwestern University in Evanston, but agreed to let him attend Roosevelt College in Chicago instead. Despite urging him to enroll in pre-med classes, Mance signed up for music classes, though he found that jazz was forbidden by the faculty, and did not finish out the year.
Chicago and military service (1947–1953)
Mance first played with Gene Ammons in Chicago in 1947 while he was enrolled at Roosevelt. He made his recording debut with Ammons on September 23 of that year for Aladdin Records, and they worked in New York City during a week when Mance was suspended from school (having been caught playing jazz in a practice room). While on tour, Lester Young came to see Ammons play at the Congo Lounge in Chicago in 1949. Young's piano player, Bud Powell, had missed his flight to Chicago, and Young asked Mance to replace him, thinking Mance was a fill-in rather than Ammons' regular pianist. Having just been offered Stan Getz's chair in the Woody Herman band, Ammons was "delighted" to let Mance go. Mance recorded with Young for Savoy Records that year, and reunited with Ammons to record with Sonny Stitt for Prestige Records in 1950.
The U.S. Army drafted Mance in 1951. Two weeks before shipping out to Korea from basic training, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley helped Mance score a position in the 36th Army Band at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he remained as the company clerk.
Discharged from the Army in 1953, Mance immediately started working at the Bee Hive Jazz Club in Chicago, completing the house rhythm section with Israel Crosby (bass) and Buddy Smith (drums). During his year at the Bee Hive, Mance backed musicians such as Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Sonny Stitt.
New York City (1953–1959)
Charlie Parker encouraged Mance to move to New York, which he did after saving money from working nearly a year at the Bee Hive. In 1954, Mance was asked to record with Dinah Washington after Wynton Kelly was drafted. Mance toured with Washington over the next two years and learned accompaniment technique from Washington's arranger, Jimmy Jones. EmArcy released two LPs, Dinah Jams and Jam Session, from a live session recorded August 14–15, 1954 in Los Angeles with Mance, Washington, Clifford Brown, Clark Terry, Maynard Ferguson, Herb Geller, Harold Land, Richie Powell, Keter Betts, George Morrow, and Max Roach.
In 1956, Mance joined Cannonball Adderley's first civilian band, along with Nat Adderley, Sam Jones, and Jimmy Cobb. They made several recordings for EmArcy/Mercury over the next two years. Dinah Washington hired this group to back her on In the Land of Hi-Fi, and Mance also recorded sessions with Johnny Griffin, James Moody, and Wilbur Ware for Argo Records and Riverside during this period.
After the Adderley group broke up for lack of gigs, Adderley became part of the Miles Davis Sextet, while Mance joined Dizzy Gillespie's band, once again replacing Wynton Kelly. Mance backed Gillespie and Louis Armstrong during a televised performance of the song "Umbrella Man" on CBS in January 1959.
Debut as leader and later career (1959–present)
Verve Records founder Norman Granz offered Mance his first recording date as leader during one of his sessions with Dizzy Gillespie. Granz set Mance up with bassist Ray Brown, and Gillespie's drummer Lex Humphries completed the trio, which recorded together in April 1959. His debut record Junior was released by Verve later that year. A busy release schedule followed, as Mance went on to record six albums for Jazzland/Riverside in the early '60s, and joined the Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis/Johnny Griffin quintet which released seven albums with Mance during 1960–1961.
Mance recorded for major labels Capitol (1964–1965) and Atlantic (1966–1970), including one date featuring Mance on harpsichord (Harlem Lullaby, 1966) and a fusion album (With a Lotta Help from My Friends, 1970). During a recording session with Benny Carter for the soundtrack to the film A Man Called Adam in 1965, Carter and Mance took in all three sets of an Ornette Coleman performance at the Five Spot Café. Mance cited Carter's broad-mindedness as an inspiration for his own stylistic explorations. Hansen House published his book How to Play Blues Piano in June 1967.
Junior Mance continued to record and perform during the next three decades, albeit at a less intense pace. He made several duet recordings with bassist Martin Rivera, and two solo piano recordings for Canadian label Sackville Records, Junior Mance Special and Jubilation. He also taught at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music for 23 years, counting Brad Mehldau and Larry Goldings among his students before retiring in 2011.
From 1990 to 2009 Mance was part of a group called "100 Gold Fingers" which toured Japan every other year. The rotating line-up of all star pianists included Toshiko Akiyoshi, Monty Alexander, Geri Allen, Lynne Arriale, Kenny Barron, Joanne Brackeen, Ray Bryant, Bill Charlap, Cyrus Chestnut, Gerald Clayton, João Donato, Tommy Flanagan, Don Friedman, Benny Green, Barry Harris, Gene Harris, Hank Jones, Duke Jordan, Roger Kellaway, John Lewis, Harold Mabern, Dave McKenna, Marian McPartland, Mulgrew Miller, Dado Moroni, Hod O'Brien, Eric Reed, Ted Rosenthal, Renee Rosnes, Mal Waldron, Cedar Walton, James Williams, and Chihiro Yamanaka, with bassist Bob Cranshaw and either Alan Dawson or Grady Tate on drums.
Mance and his wife Gloria formed their own record label, JunGlo, in 2007. Their first release, Live At Café Loup, featured Mance in a trio with Hidé Tanaka on bass and Jackie Williams on drums, with guest vocalist José James. Mance continues to play at Café Loup every Sunday night, since his residence began in June 2006. Mance toured the U.S., Italy, Japan, and Israel in 2013 accompanied by Tanaka and violinist Michi Fuji.