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Friday, 27 August 2010

Wardell Gray - Central Avenue

(Prestige / RCA (UK) Monaural 2-LP set PR 24062, recorded between 1949 - '53. this album released 1976)

Wardell Gray, the short-lived tenor saxophonist, is heard in various settings, on all of Side 1 with the then Charlie Parker rhythm section of Al Haig, piano, Tommy Potter, bass, and Roy Haynes, drums. Included is the famous Gray blues "Twisted", which was to be a huge (for jazz) hit when Annie Ross did her 1952 vocalese version. Interestingly, a second unissued take of "Twisted" heard here differs from the famous issued take. All of the tracks heard here (originally only on 78rpm or 45rpm singles), except for the three previously unissued selections on Side 1 can be heard on 1964's "The Wardell Gray Memorial Album", so if you've already got that one, it's a keeper. On Side 2, a 'live' session features Gray with Clark Terry, trumpet, and on one track, "Move", Dexter Gordon on tenor. Worth mentioning also is the presence of the great and underexposed altoist here, Sonny Criss, who just leaps out of the speakers with his dry martini sound. Other sessions included on Sides 3 and 4 feature Art Farmer, trumpet, Hampton Hawes or Sonny Clark, piano, and the recently rediscovered Frank Morgan on alto sax. Featuring on drums on these last two sessions is Larance Marable, still active with Charlie Haden's Quartet West. The first recording of "Farmer's Market" is heard here, as well as standards like "Lover Man, "Sweet And Lovely" and "The Man I Love". A very collectable album by one of the major saxophone players in jazz.

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