Jazz 88.3 Blog
February 18, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Tadd Dameron
Tadd Dameron was a brilliant composer and arranger and one of the first to show that bebop could be orchestrated for larger ensembles. Many of his compositions such as "Hot House," "Good Bait," "If You Could See Me Now" and "Our Delight" became jazz standards.
He was born in Cleveland in 1917 and came onto the jazz scene in the late nineteen thirties without much formal musical education. He first drew attention writing for Harlan Leonard and His Rockets in Kansas City.
In the early nineteen forties he moved to New York and soon embraced the new music that was happening in Harlem. He had crossed paths with Charlie Parker in Kansas City so he already had some idea of where things were headed.
When Billy Eckstine formed his bop oriented big band in 1944, Dameron added several things to the book including Our Delight and Cool Breeze.
In 1945 Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker recorded Hot House which was his original line based on "What is this Thing Called Love."
When Dizzy Gillespie formed his big band in 1946 he used several of the arrangements that Dameron had written for Eckstine and also commissioned Dameron to write new works as well.
In addition to writing for others, Dameron led his own band during the late nineteen forties and became somewhat of a house band at the Royal Roost in New York. His quintet included Fats Navarro and Allen Eager and they often accompanied guest musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray and Milt Jackson. He also debuted his forward looking “Big Ten” at the Roost in 1949.
Dameron’s writing style was personal and unique and was influenced by a number of sources including Duke Ellington and the french impressionists Debussy and Ravel. His music was extremely lyrical and displayed a depth of emotional expression.
In a Metronome Magazine interview in 1947 he said “There’s enough ugliness in the world, I’m interested in beauty.”
Dameron was an integral part of the bop vocal movement working with pioneer singer Babs Gonzales in his Three Bips and a Bop group.
You can learn more about Tadd Dameron by reading Paul Combs outstanding biography titled Dameronia published by the University of Michigan Press.
February 17, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Savoy Records
Savoy Records was founded in Newark New Jersey in late 1942 by Herman Lubinsky. He was an early pioneer of community radio in Newark and decided to start his own record company to record jazz, blues and gospel.
The strike between the musicians union and the recording industry was underway when Lubinsky started Savoy but like a few other small independent companies, Savoy was able to work out a deal with the union to begin recording.
They did a few sessions in 1942 and 1943 and by 1944 began producing records with a number of swing era stars including Ben Webster, Lester Young, Hot Lips Page, Pete Brown and Tiny Grimes.
Things at Savoy began to change when Lubinsky hired Teddy Reig as a producer in 1945.
Reig had gotten involved in the music scene in New York at an early age by being a band boy for various leaders. By the early forties he was a regular on 52nd Street and had evolved into somewhat of a street hustler. One of his schemes got him busted and sent away to prison for nine months. He got out in 1943 and headed back to the street where he produced the Trummy Young session for Continental that included Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.
In 1945 he began to produce records for Savoy. His first few sessions were with established swing stars including Pete Brown, Ike Quebec, Charlie Ventura and Don Byas. At that point he decided to begin recording the young modern jazz musicians that were just coming on to the scene.
His first bebop session was Dexter Gordon on October 30, 1945. His next was Charlie Parker’s first session as a leader that produced the classics Now’s the Time, Billie’s Bounce and Koko.
In 1946 he recorded leader dates with Dexter Gordon, Allen Eager, J.J. Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, Gil Fuller, Ray Brown and Eddie Lockjaw Davis.
In 1947 he continued to record the artists just mentioned and also added Serge Chaloff, Kenny Hagood, Leo Parker and Tadd Dameron. Also, Charlie Parker returned to New York from California and recorded more classic dates for Savoy.
Although he didn’t record for Savoy as a leader, Bud Powell was the pianist on a number of sessions and they feature some of his finest work.
On the West Coast, Ralph Bass began producing modern jazz musicians for Savoy, most notably Roy Porter’s Big Band. Bass also leased some sessions to Savoy including the Elk’s Auditorium concert that included Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray.
Reig continued recording modern jazz in 1948 and 49 but he was also recording lots of rhythm and blues during this period. Johnny Otis was handling the R and B dates on the west coast. Hits like Hal Singer’s Cornbread and Paul Williams Hucklebuck convinced Lubinsky to forget bebop and focus more attention on the bigger selling rhythm and blues.
The 1945-49 Bebop dates done for Savoy are extremely important because it was one of the only record labels that documented modern jazz in its infancy.
February 16, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Bud Powell
Bud Powell was the most important pianist to emerge from the Bebop Era and should be considered as one of the creators of modern jazz right next to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
Unfortunately, Bud had a history of mental illness that has affected the way people view him.
Early on, as a young teenager, he started hanging out at Minton’s and Monroe’s and was drawn to Thelonious Monk. He became Monk’s protege and Monk became his protector. Monk was creating his own harmonic language and although it was a major factor in the development of the new music it was Bud Powell who created the bebop style of piano playing. He had incredible speed and Dexterity with his right hand and could easily translate to the piano keyboard what Bird was doing on alto and Dizzy on trumpet.
He started out working with a variety of dance bands and by 1944 was the pianist in Cootie Williams band.
In January of 1945 he had an encounter with some railroad policemen in Philadelphia who beat him relentlessly over the head. Complaining of headaches, he was first sent to Bellvue then on to a State Mental Hospital for two and a half months. Once he returned to the scene he became very much in-demand and made several sessions throughout 1946 and 1947 as a sideman. Those recordings as well as his in person appearances established him as the top pianist in modern jazz and started influencing many others.
Trouble popped up again though when he got into a fight in a Harlem bar. His past medical record led to an 11 month stay at Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital in Queens. He was given electro-shock treatments until finally being released in late 1948. Most people who knew him at the time said that he never was the same after that. Nevertheless he got going again in 1949 and made his first records as a leader.
He was in and out of hospitals all through the nineteen fifties and he was often heavily medicated which made his playing and personality more erratic.
In 1959 he moved to Paris with Altevia “Buttercup” Edwards who he had met in the early fifties. She managed his career and medication to the dismay of French jazz fan Francis Paudras who became close to Bud during that period. In 1986 Francis wrote a book the became the basis for the film 'Round Midnight.
He returned to New York in 1964 but wasn’t able to get back on track. He had developed Tuberculosis while in Paris and passed away on July 31, 1966. In spite of all of the problems that plagued his career he had a major impact that is still felt today. There is hardly any modern jazz pianists that are not directly or indirectly influenced by Bud Powell.
Herbie Hancock summed it up in a 1966 interview when he said “Bud Powell was the foundation out of which stemmed the whole edifice of modern jazz piano."
February 12, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Bebop in California and Dial Records
When Dizzy Gillespie’s group returned to New York, Charlie Parker was not with them. He had cashed in his plane ticket and disappeared somewhere in Los Angeles. Back in New York, as we heard yesterday, Dizzy formed his big band for an engagement at the Spotlite Club on 52nd street.
Meanwhile, on the West coast, Bird began turning up at The Finale Club which was located on 1st street in the Bronzeville section of Los Angeles. Bronzeville was located where Little Tokyo had been but due to Japanese Americans being taken away to internment camps, many of those businesses had been taken over by African Americans. The area became known as Bronzeville.
The Finale hosted late night sessions and Bird’s presence in Los Angeles drew many young musicians who wanted to play with the master. Miles Davis also made his way to the West coast to continue working with Bird.
On February 26, 1946 Charlie Parker showed up at Ross Russell’s Tempo Music Shop and signed an exclusive contract with Dial Records. Bird was already under contract with Savoy but he never let such details get in his way.
Russell had been severely disappointed that he missed out on recording Bird for the initial Dial session and was ecstatic that he finally had his man.
He scheduled the first date for March and it turned out to be one of Bird’s classic sessions which produced Moose the Mooch, Ornithology, Yardbird Suite and Night in Tunisia.
After that initial session Bird continued at the Finale Club and was also a regular on Central Ave.
While Charlie Parker’s presence on the scene was valuable to the young musicians, he was having personal problems related to his drug addiction. Bird’s next session for Dial took place on July 29. His connection on the West Coast, Emery Bird, also known as Moose the Mooch, was sent to San Quentin and all of a sudden Bird couldn’t get the drugs he needed to function.
By the time he arrived at the C.P. MacGregor studio on 8th and Western he was in bad shape. He barely made it through four tunes, including a hauntingly desperate reading of Lover Man. As his condition deteriorated they sent him home to the Civic Hotel on 1st and San Pedro near Bronzeville. In the early morning hours he wandered naked into the lobby of the hotel and later accidentally set his room on fire. The authorities hauled him away to the psychopathic ward of the county jail and chained him to his bed. Ten days later, Ross Russell found him and got him transported to Camarillo State Hospital where he remained for the next 6 months.
With Bird out of the picture Ross Russell turned his attention to recording other modern jazz musicians working in the area. Over the next year and a half Dial produced sessions featuring Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Teddy Edwards, Dodo Marmarosa, Howard McGhee and Erroll Garner among others.
While Bird was "Relaxin at Camarillo," the modern jazz scene on the coast started getting some attention and several clubs and small record companies began booking and recording some of the emerging artists. There were two clubs on Central Avenue, The Downbeat and Jack’s Basket Room that welcomed the new music and labels such as Atomic, Modern, Black and White and Rex all documented the happenings.
When Bird got out of Camarillo he totally clean, in great health, and ready to get back to New York. He stayed two more months though and made two more dates for Dial. Not long after Bird left, Russell decided to follow him and moved Dial to New York where he continued to record Bird and others through the rest of the nineteen forties.
The Dial recordings of Charlie Parker are some of his finest and overall the Dial catalog features some most outstanding examples of bebop on record.
Right about the time Bird went back to New York, Dexter Gordon returned to his hometown of Los Angeles. Dexter started teaming up with Wardell Gray on Central Ave where their nightly tenor battles were legendary. Ross Russell heard them one night and decided to try to capture the excitement on record.
February 11, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Dizzy Gillespie Big Band
At the Spotlite, Dizzy would be playing to a hip New York audience and both Monroe and Dizzy’s manager Billy Shaw were sure things would be different this time.
It couldn’t happen immediately though, he needed some time, not only to put a big band together but they would also need something to play. Dizzy did the first few weeks with a small group while these details were being worked out.
At this point Dizzy’s collaborator Gil Fuller comes into the picture. Gil was an arranger who understood Dizzy’s style and took on the difficult task of translating bebop to a large ensemble.
They first approached Billy Eckstine who no longer had his big band. Eckstine let Fuller pick out ten charts and copy them. This included some of the instrumentals that Tadd Dameron had written for Eckstine among others. Fuller and Gillespie augmented those ten charts with brand new ones that Fuller was writing while the new band was starting to rehearse. Eckstine also donated his music stands and microphones to help them get off the ground.
They made their debut in early 1946 and played at the Spotlite for two months. During that time the band made their first records for the Musicraft label. Thelonious Monk was the original pianist but was often late and was replaced by John Lewis. Other members of the original band included Ray Brown, Kenny Clarke and Milt Jackson. James Moody came in early on as well.
Dizzy kept the big band through the rest of the nineteen forties touring and recording. After his Musicraft contract ended he signed with RCA and those recordings reached a much larger audience. Dizzy’s showmanship made him the ideal frontman for a big band and elevated his position as the face of the new music. Dizzy’s signature beret and horned rim glasses became the image of modern jazz.
In 1947 Dizzy broke new ground by adding Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo to the rhythm section and introduced Cubop, the marriage of bebop and afro-cuban rhythm. Chano Pozo, Dizzy Gillespie and Cubop will be our day long feature on February 19 so be sure and be listening.
In 1948 Dizzy’s Big Band did an oversees tour that brought bebop to Europe to the delight of thousands of fans.
The final big band sides were recorded for Capitol Records in 1950 and included a young John Coltrane in the saxophone section.
As a matter of fact, many outstanding young musicians worked with Dizzy’s big band during its four year existence. Some of the key figures included James Moody, Cecil Payne, Ernie Henry, Budd Johnson, Al McKibbon and Joe Harris. Vocalists included Kenny Pancho Hagood, Joe Carroll and Johnny Hartman plus arrangers Gil Fuller, Tadd Dameron, George Russell, John Lewis and Gerald Wilson. His rhythm section of John Lewis, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown and Kenny Clarke later became the original Modern Jazz Quartet.
After those 1950 sessions Dizzy broke up the big band and went back to a small group format for the next few years.
On Monday, February 15th, KSDS will be celebrating a different kind of President. Join us as we salute the "PREZ," Lester Young. We will play his music throughout the day focusing on the different periods of his illustrious career. Featuring rare recordings, clips, interviews, and, so much more. KSDS gets Prezidential- beginning at 7am.
February 10, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Bebop invades the West
Not long after Charlie Parker’s first Savoy date as a leader, Dizzy Gillespie began assembling a group of musicians to travel to Los Angeles.
One of Southern California’s premier club owners, Billy Berg decided to take a chance and bring bebop to his latest Hollywood nightspot.
Five of the key figures of the modern jazz revolution gathered at Pennsylvania Station in midtown Manhattan in early December of 1945. Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Milt Jackson,
Ray Brown and Stan Levey. They arrived at Union Station on December 10 and were scheduled to open at Billy Berg’s that night. Pianist Al Haig met them there.
The Berg contract called for five musicians to be on stage at all times and Dizzy knew there would be occasions where Charlie Parker would be late or not show up at all. Jackson was an
insurance policy to make sure the contract was always fulfilled. Dizzy also added Lucky Thompson on tenor during the Berg's engagement.
It was billed as Bebop Invades the West.
Dizzy’s group has often been credited with bringing modern jazz to southern California but in reality when they arrived they found that bebop was already there. Howard McGhee had come
to town with Coleman Hawkins several months earlier and decided to stay. Several young musicians began to work with McGhee including Teddy Edwards, Sonny Criss, Hampton
Hawes and Roy Porter. When Dizzy and Bird arrived in December, McGhee’s group was working nearby at The Streets of Paris.
Dizzy’s opening night at Billy Berg’s was a big success. Lots of musicians, hipsters, movie stars and curious fans showed up to hear what all the fuss was about.
One member of the audience , who would end up playing a big role in the documentation of modern jazz on the west coast, was Ross Russell, a Los Angeles born jazz fan and record
collector. After his discharge from the Merchant Marine, he used the money he had saved to open his own record store, The Tempo Music Shop on Hollywood Blvd.
Tempo started out specializing in early jazz but Russell had become interested in the modern jazz movement and the Tempo Music Shop became the unofficial bebop headquarters
in Southern California. Attending several nights at Berg’s convinced Russell to start his own record label and record the new music.
Dial Records was officially formed in January 1946 and Russell wanted his first session to feature Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. The first date was scheduled for January 22 with
the idea of recording Dizzy’s group from Berg’s with Lester Young replacing Lucky Thompson.
Young already had an engagement here in San Diego that night so the session was postponed for two weeks. In the meantime, crowds at Berg’s had dwindled and the engagement was cut short ending on February 4. Russell had to spring into action to get his session done before everybody left town. They did a rehearsal session at Electro Broadcast Studios in Glendale on February 4
which was somewhat of a disaster. Lester was a no show plus inexperienced engineers and what Russell referred to as “a small army of hipsters” hampered the proceedings.
The actual session was scheduled for the next day but it almost didn’t happen. Charlie Parker was nowhere to be found and after wasting a lot of time searching for him, Dizzy and the rest
of the band from Berg’s made the date without him. The Sextet minus Bird recorded five tunes which got Dial Records off the ground. Since Dizzy was under contract to another label,
Russell could not use his name on the new records. They were billed as The Tempo Jazzmen featuring “Gabriel” on the trumpet. They finished the date and flew back to New York. All
except Charlie Parker who had cashed in his plane ticket and was lost somewhere in Los Angeles.
February 9, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Charlie Parker's First Savoy Session
During the summer of 1945 Dizzy Gillespie was ask to put together a big band for a southern tour call The Hepsations of 1945. Charlie Parker stayed in New York and opened with his own Quintet at The Three Deuces.
After recording as a sideman with Sir Charles Thompson in September he was offered his first date as a leader for Savoy Records.
He assembled a Quintet for the date which included his young 19 year old protege on trumpet Miles Davis, plus Curley Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums. Bud Powell was the original choice for piano but Bud had recently been arrested after defending Thelonious Monk in a fistfight with the police and no one was sure of his whereabouts.
At the eleventh hour Bird enlisted pianist Argonne Thornton who was a regular on the 52nd street scene. He also lived at the Dewey Square Hotel which is where Charlie Parker was living at the time.
The Savoy date was set for November 26, 1945.
Dizzy was back in town after the Hepsations Tour had come to an end. The tour was a disaster in many ways marred by Jim Crow attitudes in the south as well as audiences being unprepared for the new music. The main complaint was that they couldn’t dance to it.
Dizzy showed up at Bird’s record date as an observer but was recruited into action by necessity.
First, a union representative from Local 802 showed up and wouldn’t allow Thornton (later known as Sadik Hakim) to play since he didn’t have a New York union card. Dizzy is deputized to play piano on the items recorded while the union rep was there.
To this day there is much confusion and controversy as to who plays on what.
In all, there were multiple takes of four tunes recorded that day. Billie’s Bounce and Now’s the Time, both blues in F that Bird wrote that morning. There are three takes of “Thrivin on a Riff” which became better known as Anthropology. And finally Koko which is the classic excursion on the changes of Cherokee. There are also a couple of warm-up pieces which eventually were issued as "Warmin Up a Riff" and "Meandering."
They started out with one of Bird’s blues which ended up with the title Billie’s Bounce.
Bird was having trouble with his horn and left the studio to find a different one. While he was gone, Miles slept on the studio floor and the others sent out for food. When he got back he tried out the new horn and reed with Warming Up A Riff then did a couple more takes of Billie’s Bounce. On the final take Bird’s solo is brilliant and it ends up being the released master.
After solid takes of "Now’s the Time" and "Thrivin on A Riff," Bird decides to tackle "Cherokee." The producer for Savoy Records was the infamous Teddy Reig who had no intention to pay any music licensing fees on his record dates. On the first take the band goes into the recognizable melody of Cherokee when you hear Teddy Reig say “hold it hold it”. On the next take they play the intricate introduction and launch right into Koko without the Cherokee melody. The intro was so difficult that Dizzy had to play it on Miles trumpet using his own mouthpiece. At 19 Miles wasn’t quite up to it. It begins with the alto saxophone and trumpet playing in unison, followed by Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie trading eights then another quick unison bridge. Max Roach drops a loud bomb while Dizzy rushes over to start playing the piano. After Max’s loud bang, Bird launches into one of the greatest improvised solos ever recorded.
In spite of all strange happenings, Bird’s first session as a leader was a masterpiece. The records that were released as Charlie Parker and his Reboppers introduced Bird to a much wider audience than the New York Clubs where he had been playing. His enormous influence on other musicians was the result and things would never be the same.
February 8, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: The New Jazz Foundation
Monte Kay had been running jam sessions in Greenwich Village and on 52nd Street since the early 1940s.
In 1945 he teamed up with Broadway press agent Mal Braverman and formed The New Jazz Foundation which was an organization dedicated to promoting the young musicians who represented the new sound in jazz.
Kay and Braverman decided to introduce their new organization by putting on a concert at Town Hall. Dizzy Gillespie’s Quintet with Charlie Parker was currently working at The Three Deuces on 52nd street and garnering a tremendous amount of attention.They decided to showcase that group and surround them with other all-star musicians.
The concert was scheduled for May 16 but advance ticket sales started out very slow. To rectify the problem they approached radio disc jockey Symphony Sid Torin who had a Midnight show on WHOM. Sid had been playing a lot of rhythm and blues on his show but was drawn to the new sounds of Bebop when the first Manor’s, and Guilds hit the market.
He even added a special hour to his program on Fridays to feature the new music. Kay and Braverman took him on as a partner and Sid started promoting the concert heavily on the radio. Ticket sales picked up immediately and they ended up nearly filling the place with 1300 fans.
Town Hall had been a regular location for jazz for quite a while at that point but it was primarily Eddie Condon’s weekly Dixieland concerts that the venue was known for. Condon was one of the most outspoken critics of the new music. He was the one that famously exclaimed “they flat their fifths but we drink ours”.
The May concert was a success but got some bad press because most of the artists that were advertised didn’t materialize. That didn’t deter them though as they planned another concert for June 22.
Once again they booked Dizzy’s Quintet with Bird plus Erroll Garner’s trio who was working opposite Bird and Dizzy at the Deuces. The program also included Don Byas, Big Sid Catlett, Buck Clayton, Tony Scott and Pearl Bailey.
Amazingly, recordings of the Dizzy Gillespie portion of the program was discovered a few years ago. We are airing the entire Dizzy set at noon today so be sure and tune in.
In July an article in Metronome Magazine had the headline “Foundation Seeks Support” and reported on the New Jazz Foundation. It said they had plans to expand to a national audience and were starting a national membership drive to gather support.
It never really took off the way they had envisioned but the Town Hall concerts were significant events at the dawn of the Bebop era.
In addition to the two Town Hall concerts, they hosted some Sunday jam sessions at The Fraternal Clubhouse and were involved in the production of a session for Manor Records.
The label read Slam Stewart, Erroll Garner and Harold West, supervision by of New Jazz Foundation.
February 5, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Bop Comes to 52nd St.
After the initial incubation period at Minton’s and Monroe’s, bebop came up from underground and into the mainstream when Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Pettiford opened at the Onyx Club in November of 1943. The Onyx Club was one of the well known jazz clubs on New York’s famed 52nd St. which was the unofficial headquarters of the jazz world.
The arrival of modern jazz on 52nd St. sent shockwaves through the jazz press because most people were completely unaware of the radical developments that had taken place over the last couple of years.
The recording ban eliminated anything being recorded during the new music’s development so it was a major surprise when it popped up on the street seemingly out of nowhere.
After that initial engagement at the Onyx, Dizzy spent a good part of 1944 traveling with Billy Eckstine’s Big Band which included Charlie Parker. When that came to an end things really started happening.
Charlie Parker made his 52nd St. debut in late 1944 with a trio at The Downbeat Club and both he and Dizzy started recording for several small independent record companies. Bird recorded as a sideman with Tiny Grimes for Savoy and with Clyde Hart for Continental. In early 1945, Dizzy Gillespie recorded for the first time as a leader for both Manor Records and Guild. The first two sessions featured a cross section of young modernists mixed with established swing veterans. Charlie Parker was not involved in those initial dates. The first Guild date did help introduce Dexter Gordon though who joined Dizzy on the front line.
The “big bang” of modern jazz occurred in April of 1945 when Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie finally came together in Dizzy’s Quintet at The Three Deuces. With that engagement Bebop had arrived.
They recorded together for Guild which produced the first bop classics: Groovin High, Dizzy Atmosphere, Salt Peanuts, Shaw Nuff and Hot House. The controversial new music was now part of the mainstream for all to hear.
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