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Various Artists: First Steps

Jim Santella By

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Various Artists: First Steps Recorded between 1944 and 1953, First Steps traces the bebop roots of a number of jazz giants. Each of them went on from those early years to launch impressive recording careers. Savoy’s reproduction preserves the original energy while tweaking spots here and there for sonic purity. The source materials used are original acetate and tape masters. Without question, the resulting CD sound has enhanced these original sessions.

Stan Getz shows some of the smooth control that would lead, some time later, to a national bossa nova craze. On “And the Angels Swing,” he purrs gently with piano trio, running boppish all over the horn. James Moody moves a lot faster on “Moody Speaks,” while Dexter Gordon employs his unmistakable tone on “Blow, Mr. Dexter.” Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis shows his forceful way with a horn on his own composition “Calling Dr. Jazz." Working as a leader, Serge Chaloff struts alongside trumpet, trombone, piano, bass and drums in a roaring bebop affair. Similarly, baritone saxophonist Leo Parker leads a sextet that includes Gene Ammons’ suave, clarion tenor sound and Howard McGhee’s bright roar. Parker adds an adventurous baritone solo to the arrangement.

Harold Land’s interpretation of “I’ll Remember April” flows gently in the lower registers for a welcome treat. Frank Rosolino and J.J. Johnson appear to remind us that the trombone played an important role in the formation of bebop. Rosolino’s “Mean to Me” smokes with an avid passion. His agile technique and clear tone have provided a distinctive role model for several generations. Similarly, Art Pepper’s “Everything Happens to Me,” which serves to close the album, recalls the impact this artist had on several generations of budding bebop artists.

Track Listing: Red Cross; Shaw

Personnel: Tiny Grimes- guitar; Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper- alto saxophone; Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, Howard McGhee, Miles Davis- trumpet; J.J. Johnson, Frank Rosolino- trombone; Ike Quebec, Dexter Gordon, Don Byas, Stan Getz, James Moody, Eddie

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Savoy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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