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Wardell Gray

Wardell Gray was one of the truly great, yet by now almost obscure, bebop tenor saxophonists. With a smooth mellow and consistent tone, he created a tenor style that veered from swing to bebop, a style that was elegant, sure-footed, mature and distinctive. His premature death under mysterious circumstances in 1955, robbed the jazz world of another unique player, and cast him into distant recollection, though his talent deserves greater recognition. Born in Oklahoma City, Gray grew up in Detroit, playing locally as a teenager. He was a member of the Earl Hines big band during 1943-1945 before moving to Los Angeles in 1945

ARTICLE: REASSESSING

Dial "S" for Sonny

Read "Dial "S" for Sonny" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Pianist Sonny Clark was culturally marginalized in much the same way as his contemporary Elmo Hope—both heroin-addicted jazz musicians in the 1950s: at the time, and romantically, a cliche. Both pianists have been sorely lumped into the “Bud Powell school of bop piano" which superficially may seem accurate until one considers the evolutionary continuum of jazz ...

ARTICLE: MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Two Twin-Tenor Duos

Read "Two Twin-Tenor Duos" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

The idea of two tenor saxophonists playing together has a long, storied history in jazz through pairings like Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, and Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. Such duos have become harder to find in recent years but here are two newer examples. Jeff Rupert / ...

ARTICLE: PROFILE

Pete Brown: White Rooms & Imaginary Westerns, Part 1

Read "Pete Brown: White Rooms & Imaginary Westerns, Part 1" reviewed by Duncan Heining

Part 1 | Part 2 Poet, lyricist, rock musician, producer and scriptwriter—Pete Brown has covered a lot of bases in his six decades in music and literature. His career embodies that era that began with the Beatles' “Love Me Do" in October 1962 and ended in January 1969 with the band playing live on ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Ada Rovatti: True Artist

Read "Ada Rovatti: True Artist" reviewed by R.J. DeLuke

For Ada Rovatti, a saxophonist whose musical journey took her from her homeland of Italy, then inevitably to the United States, the road taken has not always been easy. A bright and sensitive artist, she can have misgivings about her work at times. But that work, with other bands or the leading voice on ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Jazz on Central Avenue - Bebop in Los Angeles (1945 - 1948)

Read "Jazz on Central Avenue - Bebop in Los Angeles (1945 - 1948)" reviewed by Russell Perry

Most of the pioneering bebop musicians we have featured in the past several programs were based in New York—Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Bud Powell, Coleman Hawkins, Fats Navarro, J.J. Johnson, Max Roach. While New York may have dominated the modern music scene, it wasn't the only scene. The wartime economy in southern California brought an influx of ...

NEWS: BIRTHDAY

Jazz Musician of the Day: Wardell Gray

Jazz Musician of the Day: Wardell Gray

All About Jazz is celebrating Wardell Gray's birthday today! Wardell Gray was one of the truly great, yet by now almost obscure, bebop tenor saxophonists. With a smooth mellow and consistent tone, he created a tenor style that veered from swing to bebop, a style that was elegant, sure-footed, mature and distinctive. His premature death under ...

ARTICLE: BOOK REVIEW

More Than A Jazz Legend: Dexter Gordon and His Search For Personal Integrity

Read "More Than A Jazz Legend: Dexter Gordon and His Search For Personal Integrity" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon Maxine Gordon 261 Pages ISBN: #9780520280649 University of California Press 2018 Dexter Gordon became a jazz legend in his own time. He played a key role in the bebop and hard bop movements, created an instantly recognizable style that ...

NEWS: BIRTHDAY

Jazz Musician of the Day: Wardell Gray

Jazz Musician of the Day: Wardell Gray

All About Jazz is celebrating Wardell Gray's birthday today! Wardell Gray was one of the truly great, yet by now almost obscure, bebop tenor saxophonists. With a smooth mellow and consistent tone, he created a tenor style that veered from swing to bebop, a style that was elegant, sure-footed, mature and distinctive. His premature death under ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Adam Shulman Sextet: Full Tilt

Read "Full Tilt" reviewed by Jack Bowers

In music, as in life, not every new voice is worth hearing. Here's one that is. Full Tilt, the fifth CD by San Francisco-born and based pianist Adam Shulman's sextet, is a throwback to those halcyon days when bop was king and giants like Diz, Bird, Miles, Max Roach, Hank Mobley, Benny Golson, Horace Silver, Wardell ...


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