Wardell Gray

Complete Sunset and New Jazz Masters

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This import from Jazz Factory (the vintage jazz imprint from Spain's Disconforme label) offers 20 sides of saxophonist Wardell Gray at his bebop best. Best known as a mate of Dexter Gordon's, these recordings showcase Gray as a bandleader, composer, and soloist of rare ability who never let the swing disappear form his expression of the bop Muse's dictates. On these sessions he is accompanied by a stunning array of the era's sidemen, including pianists Dodo Marmarosa, Al Haig, and Erroll Garner, bassists Red Callendar, Tommy Potter, and Clyde Lombardi, as well as drummers such as Roy Haynes, Charles Perry, and Jack West. Most notable are the 78s Gray cut with Marmarosa and Callendar , three of which he composed: "Dell's Bells," "One for Prez," and "Easy Swing." The lone cover of George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love," is the definitive bop read of the tune. Also stellar are reads of Jimmy Raney's "Five Star," and Al Haig's "In a Pinch," but virtually every performance here is flawless. Sound is better than adequate, but liner notes are perfunctory at best, though complete session info is included. Nonetheless, for the price, this one is tough to beat. [Note: unfortunately, the photo chosen by Jazz Factory for the cover of this Wardell Gray album is actually that of Dexter Gordon.]

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