He spent a yeaer in New York City around 1946, not playing but getting to know musicians one of whom, trumpeter Freddie Wesbter, went out of his way to help and encourage him. Back in Philadelphia he got to know John Coltrane and, later, the Heath brothers, Percy, Jimmy and Al. All this helped to give him the experience he needed. Work with the units of Eddie Vinson and B.B. King probably helped too but by the end of the Forties Cal was carrying out a name for himself as a composer as well as a trumpeter. He wrote Nakatini Suite
in 1948 in appreciation of a girl of that name who wrote the entertainment column for the "Pittsburgh Courier". (John Coltrane recorded the tune ten years after it was written; the record company change the title to Nakatini Serenade
.) In March, 1951 Charlie Parker recorded Cal's tune Fiesta
with his regular rhythm section plus a couple of percussionists from the Machito orchestra.
But precise news of Massey in the Fifties is generally hard to come by. he had a band of his own in Philadelphia for a time and he worked with Philly Joe Jones but it is not know exactly where or when. By 1958 he had settled in New York City seemingly engaged more in writing than playing. He produced Bakai
(the word means 'cry' in Arabic) for a 1957 Coltrane record session; he also wrote for men such as Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan and McCoy Tyner. In the autumn of 1959 he was on the road with a big band fronted by George Shearing (Julius Watkins was in the band too) and was present on the unit's sole album, for the Capitol label. The following April trumpeter Lee Morgan used two of Cal's tunes on the Blue Note session which produced his "Leeway" album and in January, 1961, two days afte rhis 33rd birthday, Nat Hentoff gave him his first, and it turn [sic] out his only, chance to record under his own name. Sadly the session seems to have been lost for several years and only an edited Father and Son
ever appeared, on the Candid album titled "Jazz Life" (Candid CS 9019). Cal came to Europe with Archie Shepp's band in 1969 and was interviewed by Francois Postif for "Le Jazz Hot" magazine. When the article appeared it was headed by a rare photo of Massey (curiously enough playing Flugel horn, apparently) and with his sole title on record listed as his complete discography!
~ Alun Morgan, liner notes on "Blues to Coltrane", Candid CD 9029, keine Angabe von Jahr in Booklet oder auf CD - die seltsame Interpunktion steht so bei Morgan...