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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Way Out Wardell - Wardell Gray & Erroll Garner


Just You, Just Me

Way Out Wardell
The Late Great Wardell Gray
The Effervescent Erroll Garner
Photography: William P. Claxton
Art Direction & Production: Florette Bihari
Crown Records CLP 5004

Tenor Sax - Wardell Gray and Vido Musso
Piano - Erroll Garner and Arnold Ross
Bass - Red Callender and Harry Babison
Guitar - Irving Ashby and Barney Kessel
Trombone - Vic Dickenson
Drums - Jackie Mills and Don Lamond
Trumpets - Howard McGhee and Ernie Royal

From the back cover: Here is more music from Modern's on-the-spot coverage of a memorable concert in downtown Los Angeles in 1948. A finer group of musicians could bot have been assembled than were there that night, and this music retains all its original excitement.

Of course, jazz of that period was lusty and exciting anyway, and had an ebullient character that lent itself to concertizing. In fact, that's largely the way the West Coast got into the modern jazz picture: they were the organizers of the big jazz concert idea and many of modern jazz's finest artist gravitated to the coast.

A Los Angeles concert organizer has put together some of the finest nights of great jazz entertainment that have ever come about on either coast, and this was one of his early and most successful efforts.

It would be most difficult to assemble a crew like this these days; conditions and contracts have changed the picture somewhat. The interesting thing is that as important as these musicians were at the time, they have grown into the real giants of their styles today. Thus, this is not only a genuine collector's item, but a concert of good jazz as pleasant to hear today as the day it was recorded.

Wardell Gray flashed across the jazz horizon like a falling star, and all too soon his bright flame was ixtengusihed. He had more than a nodding acquaintance with the social evils of this modern age and he met violent death in Las Vegas in May of '55. His credits included stints with the Basie and Goodman bands. Like Getz he tried his lineage back to the definitive Lester Young, but unlike the Brothers school, his approach maintained close touch with the tap-roots of hot jazz. Although he employed a tubular sound, he combined it with the sort of funky drive that marks the true jazzman in any period. He was undoubtedly one of modernity's major tenormen.

Erroll Garner, a 35-year-old elf with an equally elfish piano style, was born in Pittsburgh, and buddied around as a boy with Dodo Marmarosa and Billy Strayhorn. Although he is self-taught and still reads little music, he is one of a handful of pianists who has really created a piano style all his own. His delated-action approach to melody lines and his lush handling of ballads )as on Tenderly, here) are well known, but he is also a skilled ensemble pianist, as shown by his recoding with Charlie Parker and his good contribution to these groups.

Among the others, there is the Sicilian-born tenorman Vido Musso, of Kenton fame; his rich, punchy style offers a sharp contrast to the work of Wardell. Howard McGhee came to prominence with the original New York bopsters – Parker et al – and '56 finds his star once again on the rise. Barney Kissel, the Oklahoma-born guitarist, is an emulator of the late Charlie Christian, and a major voice on his instrument.

Benny Carter, the great bandleader and arranger, is master of of many instruments; his bright appearances on alto saxophone here show hey he dominated the polls for years in that category. The earth, bumptious trombone of the ageless.

Vic Dickenson offers a refreshing balance to the modernists he augments here. Don Lamond, who sparked the best of the Herman Herds, is a man who remade big band drumming; his explosive, assertive style is shown to fine effect here. Ernie Royal is another graduate of the Herman band; his high-riding, clean-line trumpet is probably the less appreciate of the top trumpet-players.

Blue Lou
Sweet Georgia Brown
Just You, Just Me
One O'Clock Jump

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