Henry Franklin

Henry Franklin (born Oct. 1, 1940) is an American jazz double-bassist from Los Angeles who released two albums on Black Jazz Records between 1972 and 1974, followed by a third on Catalyst in 1977. As a backing player, he apprenticed with Hugh Masekela and the Three Sounds during the late 1960s and played on albums by Doug Carn, Gene Russell, and Woody Shaw during the 1970s.

Franklin first emerged in the backing band of South African cornetist Hugh Masekela. The gig spanned three albums on UNI Records between 1967 and 1969. Franklin also played on the Three Sounds’ 1969 Blue Note release Soul Symphony.

In 1970, Franklin appeared on the Flying Dutchman release Self Determination Music by John Carter and Bobby Bradford. Franklin is also credited with acoustic bass on the album Hot Fun In the Summertime by blues guitarist Freddy Robinson.

The following year, Franklin played on albums by keyboardist Gene Russell (New Direction) and Doug Carn (Infant Eyes). Both were issued on Russell’s fledgling Black Jazz Records label.

Henry Franklin, The Skipper (1972)

In 1972, Franklin debuted as a bandleader with The Skipper. It features four originals, including the lengthy “Outbreak” and “Beauty and the Electric Tub.” Keyboardist Bill Henderson composed the title-track while trombonist/label-mate All Hall wrote “Theme for Jojo.” As on most Black Jazz titles, Russell handed the production.

1973 saw Franklin’s name appear on albums by Woody Shaw (Song of Songs), Michael Howell (Looking Glass), Hampton Hawes (Blues for Walls), and a second Carter/Bradford release (Secrets). Franklin also played on Russell’s second Black Jazz title Talk to My Lady.

Henry Franklin, The Skipper at Home (1974)

In 1974, Franklin issued his second title for Black Jazz, The Skipper at Home. It features ex-Mwandishi Leon Ndugu Chancler (drums) alongside Hall and a returning Henderson. Hall composed three of the cuts: “Blue Lights,” “Soft Spirit,” and “The Magic Boy.” The album also includes a rendition of the Chick Corea composition “What Was” and two originals by pianist David Durrah, including the multi-vocaled “Venus Fly Trap.”

Frankin features on seven additional 1974 releases, including albums by Johnny Hammond (Gambler’s Life), Julian Priester (Love, Love), Bobbi Humphrey (Live at Montreux), and labelmate Calvin Keys (Proceed With Caution!). The following year, Franklin played on two albums by Freddie Hubbard (Liquid Love, Gleam) and the 19th and final Black Jazz release, 2nd Wave by Roland Haynes.

In 1977, Franklin issued his third album Tribal Dance on Catalyst Records. It includes the self-written “For Penny” alongside compositions by Hall (“Tribal Dance,” “Cosmos Dwellers”) and multi-reedist Charles Owens (“Eric’s Tune”).

Franklin issued his final headlining album, We Came to Play, on Daagnim Records in 1985. During the years that followed, he backed trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez on three albums, followed by a stint with the Hampton Hawes Trio.


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