The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions (#260)

In the ‘30s, three major labels dominated the American music market in terms of what would be recorded, marketed and distributed. Decca, Columbia and RCA Victor were the mammoths of the era. And like mammoths in nature, they became slow to react and slow to move. The innovative independents of the ‘20s like Gennett and Paramount were gone. The behemoths roamed the planet freely in search of mediocre music that they could metastasize into large amounts of money. Then gradually the aesthetic forces of good rose up in the late ‘30s with Commodore, Blue Note, HRS and others capturing music that was real, innovative and beautiful. These pioneers (Milt Gabler, Alfred Lion and Steve Smith respectively) led the way for the proliferation of independent labels in the ‘40s which were created to capture the new developments in jazz and rhythm & blues. Most of these labels didn’t make it past the mid ‘50s, but they served their purpose, capturing important music that we might not have otherwise. Ross Russell created Dial Records primarily to record Charlie Parker, who made his first Los Angeles appearance at Billy Berg’s in December 1945. Two months later, Dial became the first West Coast modern jazz label, recorded first Dizzy Gillespie, immediately followed by Charlie Parker. Charlie Parker’s seven studio sessions made the label’s legacy invaluable and captured some of the best Bird on wax. But there was a lot more to Dial than Charlie Parker. In fact, the label’s best-selling record was actually “The Chase” by Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray! With “The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions” we present the full picture with wonderful sessions by Gordon, Howard McGhee, Sonny Berman and Bill Harris, Erroll Garner, Earl Coleman and Fats Navarro. All of this music was captured in less than three years. Dial has had a checkered existence in terms of ownership and the original lacquers have missing for 60 years. What is remarkable about our set is the work of Steve Marlowe and Jonathan Horwich. Using the best available transfers of the label’s current owner, Tony Williams’ Spotlite Records, they have done an amazing job of restoring and remastering these masters. The music is rich in sonics and free of extraneous scrunches, ticks and pops. This is Dial Records, complete and like you’ve never heard it before!
- Michael Cuscuna
© Mosaic Records