Recording Date: Feb 18, 1957
This somewhat obscure Lee Morgan set (originally cut for Specialty and made available on CD in the OJC series) features the trumpeter with other then-current members of the Dizzy Gillespie big band: trombonist Al Grey, tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell, baritonist Billy Root, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul West and drummer Charlie Persip. With arrangements provided by Benny Golson and Roger Spotts, the music is modern bop for the period. Highlights include the 10 1/2-minute "Dishwater," "Over the Rainbow" and what was probably the first-ever version of Golson's "Whisper Not." Morgan plays extremely well throughout the spirited set, and he was just 18 at the time.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
One of the most stimulating evenings I have ever spent listening to jazz was in the dizzy atmosphere of the large jazz band of Dizzy (John) Gillespie early in 1957 at a dance in Oakland, Calif.
Dances are good for listening to big bands. For one thing, you can move around and aren't strapped in a chair at a miniature table. For another, the band takes considerably fewer breaks than at a jazz club. Dancers like to dance and bands obey this tribal ritual of playing long sets and taking short intermissions. The result of this is that the band jells better, gets groovier faster and In general can be expected to put on a better performance as a unit than at a concert.
The big thing about Dizzy (John) Gillesple's band that night was the tremendous drive which was still not harsh but ever exciting, the multiplicity of the soloists and the way in which the entire band got a group unity that lifted each number up off the ground and the audience with it.
It has been common practice in recording to attempt to capture the feel of a good big band with a splinter group composed of several of its members. It has not always worked out. This time it has. In this album we have not only the exciting soloists from the band (and the fact that they sounded exciting while playing in the band of one of the greatest of all jazz soloists is in itself a great tribute) but the essential rhythmic drive is also captured.
Al Grey is one of the exciting things about the Gillespie band these days. For years he was one of the best things in the Lionel Hampton group and before that had made recordings and led his own combinations. In Dizzy's band, Al Grey blossomed as a soloist. On this album you will find considerable evidence of this. I would like to draw particular attention to his intriguing approach to the solo statement on "Day By Day" wherein he not only manages to bring out all the latent lyricism of the melody but then proceeds to explore its harmonic and rhythmic possibilities with a double time (at least!) solo that is a delight.
Billy Mitchell, one of the tenor stars of the Gillespie band, is a Detroiter and one of that group of amazing young modern musicians that the city has spawned in recent years. He has played with Jimmy Lunceford, Woody Herman and Lucky Millinder as well as leading his own group. For the last year he has been featured with Gillespie. Note his solos on "Rite of Swing" and "Over the Rainbow?'
Lee Morgan is, if such a thing is possible, a trumpet star soloist in Dizzy Gillespie's band! Morgan has elicited considerable comment for his work with Gillespie during the past year and also for his own recordings. He's from Philadelphia and is a real youngster - born in 1938. One of the big kicks of the Gillespie band has been Morgan's enthusiasm, his pre-gig warming up and his constant drive to play. You'll find his exciting trumpet style (out of Dizzy by way of Clifford Brown) scattered throughout this album, but I was especially struck by his lyricism on "Someone I Knew"
Of the rest of the group, Billy Root, originally a tenor man turned now to baritone, also halls from Philadelphia- was born in 1934, and has played with Hal MacIntyre and Stan Kenton; Charlie Persip is 28, hails from Atlantic City, N. J., has worked with Joe Holiday and Tadd Dameron and has been with Gillespie for four years; Paul West has recently been with the Gillespie band and Wynton Kelly is a native of Jamaica in the West Indies, was raised in Brooklyn and has been featured as accompanist to Dinah Washington as well as with the Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie groups.
The arrangers for the date are two young men who have contributed extensively to the book of the Dizzy (John) Gillespie band - Benny Golson and Roger Spotts. Golson, who plays tenor with
Gillespie's band, is the composer of that haunting ballad "I Remember Clifford" which finds an echo in "Whisper Not" on this album.
The session at which these recordings were made was a particularly enjoyable one. Bill Claxton, who's photographed more jazz sessions than probably anyone, says it was one of the best he was ever at. Perhaps the reason for this is that the band was really not a pick-up unit, but a cadre drawn from one of the most vital big bands in recent jazz history. Most of these men have been with Gillespie some time, and all of them have worked together long enough to acquire that patina of mutual association so vital to good jazz.
I hope you enjoy this album as much as I have and as much as the musicians who made it enjoyed the sessions.
Ralph J. Gleason (notes reproduced from the original album liner)
Series supervisor's note:
When this album was first released in 1957, the names of Al Grey and Billy Mitchell, the most familiar of the ensemble, were used to help sell the record. Grey, a veteran in the '40's and '50's of the Benny Carter, Jimmie Lunceford and Lionel Hampton bands before joining Dizzy Gillespie, had recorded under his own name for Peacock while with Hampton. Later in 1957, he and Billy Mitchell joined Count Basie, leaving that group in 1961. The two co-led a group which recorded for Cadet until Grey returned to Basie in 1964.
Mitchell's experience previous to this record was with Lucky Millinder, Gil Fuller and Woody Herman. After 1963, he recorded for Smash on his own and with the Clarke - Boland Orchestra on Atlantic.
The biggest star to emerge from these sessions was then 19-year-old trumpeter Lee Morgan. Within two years he played impressive solos on John Coltrane's "Blue Trane" and Jimmy Smith's "The Sermon," as well as his body of work with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, all for Blue Note. Later were to come juke box hits "The Sidewinder" and "The Rumproller" in the '60's before his untimely death in 1972.
Wynton Kelly went on to a degree of renown with Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley, using his varied background with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Lester Young to formulate a bluesy modernist style. Kelly also recorded with his own trio with Paul Chambers, bass, and Jimmy Cobb, drums.
Charles Persip later played drums for Ray Charles and Billy Root can be heard with Lee Morgan on Roulette's Birdland jam sessions.
Benny Golson, whose "Whisper Not" is heard here in two takes, is a fine tenor man who is best known as a composer: "Stablemates," "Killer Joe" and "I Remember Clifford" are his best known pieces. After leaving Gillespie, Benny played with Art Blakey, formed the Jazztet with Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller and McCoy Tyner and carved out a nice career scoring motion pictures.
For this CD, we have used three previously unissued alternate takes. On take 3 of "Someone I Know," Lee Morgan is more lyrical and less bluesy than on the master. Lee's solo on the new take of "Whisper Not" has him playing open horn, as opposed to his muted solo on the master. Kelly's solo is better on the alternate as well.
Hear Wynton play a lick from Ray Charles' "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" during the studio talk before take 3. Ray was a great influence over the younger jazz players at this time, inspiring the whole "funk" school a la Horace Silver.
Finally, on the stereo master of "Dishwater," the tape ran out. On the next reel, we found eight new bars of trombone solo which weren't on the original record. They are now returned to their proper place.