The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions (#260)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions (#260)
This is Dial Records, complete and like you’ve never heard it before! Using the best available transfers of the label’s , Steve Marlowe and Jonathan Horwich have done an amazing job of restoring and remastering these treasures. The music is rich in sonics and free of extraneous scrunches, ticks and pops.
Limited Edition: 7,500 copies

9 CDs -  $149.00


One Of The Great Labels In Jazz
The Set Every Jazz Fan Must Own

Each Mosaic project falls into at least one of three categories.

Some sets we know will be significant because of the demand for a hard-to-find jazz artist or the unique scope of a Mosaic box. Some sets we bring out because, popular or not, the music must be heard. And sometimes… we just love it. Want it. Have to have it.

Which brings us to The Complete Dial Masters. As the saying goes, check all the boxes.

As most jazz fans know, among the most important records to hear in your life are Charlie Parker's Dial Sessions, recorded between 1946 and 1947. They are classics with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Howard McGee, Wardell Gray, J. J. Johnson, Duke Jordan, Teddy Edwards, Teddy Wilson, Errol Garner, Tommy Potter, Max Roach and others.

But Dial was way more than Parker. It was a microcosm of the explosive changes happening at a moment in time. And we have everything. Every master, every important alternate, and many intriguing false starts, on nine CDs. The set was only previously collected in Japan 20 years ago. Now it's available worldwide at last, if you hurry.

An Unforgettable Era in Music

A perfect storm of circumstances allowed this music to be created.

Dial founder Ross Russell, whose Tempo Music Shop was a West Coast Mecca for jazz lovers, launched his indie label just after the Musician's Union lifted its infamous ban on recording. Parker, Gillespie, and other inventors had been working on bebop completely out of the limelight for a few years. The new sound hit record buyers like a ton of bricks.

Another important element was, the music started flowing within a year of Germany's surrender in World War II. The public was hungry for something fresh, a new breed of player, and for the exuberant frenzy that bop delivered.

Thirdly, Parker, Gillespie, Dexter Gordon and others were in the midst of long-term engagements on the Coast, which meant Russell and his customers were hearing them. Major labels were reeling from the requirement to pay royalties for the first time, and from what the War did to them economically. Dozens of one-man shops like Russell's, often run by devoted jazz fans, could work more efficiently and serve the demand. Russell cornered the market on the new sound on the West Coast and he got busy documenting it.

First Date

A February 1946 recording date was supposed to be all Bird and Diz under the name the Dizzy Gillespie Jazzmen, but a chaotic session produced only one track ("Diggin' Diz"). When the session resumed the next day Parker was nowhere to be found. Now called Dizzy's Tempo Jazzmen, a reconstituted lineup made rousing versions of "Confirmation," "Diggin' For Diz," "'Round Midnight" and others.

Bird was in command for a March 1946 date featuring Lucky Thompson, Dodo Marmarosa, Vic McMillian, Roy Porter, Arvin Garrison, and his new hire Miles Davis. This is the essence of bebop, the brilliance of Parker, the soul of the era, and recorded music at its most emotionally affecting. Parker was playful and relaxed on multiple takes of "Moose the Mooche," "Yardbird Suite," "Ornithology," and "Night in Tunisia," crafting solos displaying his exceptional inventions in rhythm, harmony, and phrasing.

Not so at a July date featuring Bird with Howard McGhee. Parker was clearly ailing, and later that night he would set fire to his bed, wind up in jail, and eventually be committed to the California State Mental Hospital at Camarillo. Despite questions about how the music was made (apparently Ross Russell had to hold Parker up to the microphone to support him), there are listeners who point to "Loverman" as one of the most poignant recordings of Parker's life. And McGhee is spectacular throughout.

Bird Relaxes.

After a six-month stay at the institution, Parker was back on his feet. The day of his release, he proved it at an informal home session that was delightfully affirming. Russell put Parker back in the studio just over two weeks later with Erroll Garner, Red Callendar, Harold "Doc" West, and Earl Coleman. It's an exceptional study in contrasts to hear Garner's two-fisted style of playing and Coleman's refinement supporting Parker, who virtually skips through multiple takes of "This Is Always," "Dark Shadows," and instrumental wonders "Bird's Nest" and "Cool Blues."

A week later, Bird was back in the studio again to blow on "Relaxin' At Camarillo," "Cheers," "Carvin' the Bird," and "Stupendous," this time with McGhee, Wardell Gray, Dodo, Barney Kessel, Callendar, and Don Lamond. It was billed as the Charlie Parker All Stars, and with McGhee and Gray, the title was no exaggeration.

In October, Dial had relocated to New York where Parker had moved too. His working unit from the Three Deuces (Miles, Max Roach, Duke Jordan and Tommy Potter) provided what Russell regarded as the finest Parker date of all. This was the session that produced "Dexterity," "Bongo Bop," "Dewey Square" and more. And the ballads ("Bird of Paradise" and "Embraceable You") - you just get lost in their lyricism and warmth.

Subsequent New York sessions (the last one adding J.J. Johnson) produced "Scrapple From the Apple," "Klact-Oveeseds-Tene," "Crazeology," "Drifting On a Reed," and others, all considered to be the something like the holy scriptures of the jazz canon. Not to mention jaw-dropping runs on ballads like "Out of Nowhere," "Don't Blame Me," "My Old Flame," and many more. Whatever was going on in Parker's life was not affecting the music. In fact, Russell was so impressed with all the ways Parker expressed himself on "Crazeology," including the aborted fragments, that he took the unprecedented step at the time of releasing those alternates as well.

Other Gems.

If only for the Parker selections, this set would be an impressive reminder of a great time of musical creation. But it includes so much more.

Sonny Berman, Bill Harris, and Ralph Burns led visiting members of the Woody Herman unit - always among the most experimental groups in jazz - on dates where they could stretch and evolve. Serge Chaloff joined them, as he would later in Herman's band.

Howard McGhee was rewarded for his pressure with Bird on the "Loverman" date with a sextet set co-led by Marmarosa that also included Teddy Edwards. McGhee would do another session for Dial near the end of the brief era, just before the second Musicians' Union strike of the decade that ultimately pushed Russell out of the business. That session included Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, and James Moody. And Marmarosa - who was playing the best music of his career and was always one of Russell's favorites on keyboard - got his own trio session in December of 1947.

Erroll Garner, who had played so brilliantly on the "Cool Blues" date that included a few trio recordings without Parker, also got his own solo piano date. If there's one guy who could work without any additional rhythm, it was Garner, whose rolling, syncopated, ten-fingered approach was completely musical, completely entertaining.

A hybrid date of musicians Fats Navarro, Don Lanphere, Linton Garner, Al Casey, Jimmy Johnson, and Max Roach backed Earl Coleman in an attempt to capitalize on the success of the date the singer did with Bird. The real winner on that date was "Move," an instrumental that was a test for newcomer Lanphere (he passed) and a showstopper for Navarro.

Pointing the Way.

The earliest tracks on the set, recorded in New York, were originally done for Comet and acquired years later by Dial. They are from a Red Norvo date in June 1945, featuring Bird and Diz, Flip Phillips, Teddy Wilson, Slam Stewart, and Specs Powell and J.C. Heard alternating. The date is a wonderful meeting of old and new. More accessible tunes like "Hallelujah" and "Get Happy" helped bridge the gap for listeners who found "Congo Bop" so startling. For reasons unrelated to the quality of the music, they never sold well and have always been rare, even in re-releases.

But wait. There's more. (We've always wanted to use that phrase).

It was impossible to be a jazz fan in Los Angeles at the time and not know about the almost nightly tenor battles between Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray in after-hours showdowns. While Dexter had already recorded for Dial, a June 1947 quintet date featured both masters of the tenor, on a particularly fine example of the art titled "The Chase." In one song you hear all that Gordon was and why he was so revered for his commanding mastery… and all Gray could have been if he lived a little longer and was able to sustain his fleet, bright talent. On his own, Gordon also performs the mesmerizing "Chromatic Aberration" and some of his loveliest ballads for Dial. A later tenor battle between Gordon and Teddy Edwards was another study in contrasts, and gave Gordon an opportunity to deliver some beautifully emotional performances on slower tempo numbers that feature him.

Enhanced by our signature Mosaic package and exclusive booklet, this music will bring you joy forever. But as with all Mosaic releases, we will not have the rights to sell it forever. "The Complete Dial Masters" is a strictly limited release. Please order today.

Read More About Dial:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
The booklet contains a wonderful 1995 essay by Dial founder Ross Russell, bringing to life the jazz scene and the state of independent recording in America in the rapidly changing ‘40s. The invaluable session by session analyses are told by the collective efforts of Tony Williams, Mark Gardner and Max Harrison with “you are there” input and reminiscences by Russell informing each write-up.

Steve Marlowe and Jonathan Horwich have performed miracles on the Dial catalog. Starting with the best transfers of the catalog which still left much to be desired, they used a process known as Bit Density Processing (don’t ask) and were able to painstakingly remove every pop and tick and surface noise without sacrificing one iota of music. The results are stunning.

Photo Copyright © Protected
In the process of making this set, we stumbled upon Ross Russell’s archive which resides at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. There with the help of research associate Elizabeth Garver and independent researcher Richard Mikel we were able to uncover 27 photographs, most taken at actual Dial sessions as well as Charlie Parker’s hand-written contract with Dial and his note to Dial assigning half of his royalties to the man known as Moose The Mooche. Eight Francis Wolff photographs from the period are also included.

(f) Sonny Berman’s/Bill Harris Big Eight/Ralph Burns Quintet – September 21, 1946

Almost two months elapsed after the traumatic events of the Parker Loverman session before another Dial date was held. The presence of Woody Herman Herd in LA was an opportunity too good to miss for the new label. Ross Russell was keen to bring in a contingent of the talented soloists from the band, including trumpeter Sonny Berman, trombonist Bill Harris and tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips. To the front line was added baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff, who would become a Hermanite about a year later. The Dial session came at the tail end of a hectic program of recording by Woody’s men, beginning with the challenging Ebony Concerto, composed and conducted by Igor Stravinsky. A further four sessions for Columbia, yielding such classics as Sidewalks Of Cuba, Summer Sequence and Uncle Remus Said, immediately preceded these small group sides for Dial.

The Herman crew of the time was into bebop and the new sounds were beginning to color their music. Berman’s style was evolving towards the Gillespie approach, Berman died at the age of 22 less than four months after this session. Yet already on his contributions to some of the major big bands of his day, he had shown himself uncommonly versatile, communicating a wider range of emotion than can normally be expected of one so young. Phillips was becoming harmonically aware, while Bill Harris, behind the apparent mainstream bluster, was comfortable in a modern setting as he showed emphatically with the Herman band of the late 1940s. Guitarist Chuck Wayne was modern in conception, and Don Lamond’s rhythmic perception was admired and noted by the producer, who would use him on a Parker session the following year. If there was a weakness in the cast it proved to be bassist Artie Bernstein, who functioned well with swing bands, but was somewhat out of his depth behind soloists like Berman and the superb Chaloff.

Indeed, Chaloff, arguably the most mobile baritone saxophonist the music ever produced, complained bitterly about Bernstein’s support (or lack of it) on his feature, a barely disguised Cherokee, heard in two takes and renamed variously Blue Serge and DIAL-ogue. “The bass player not only played in two, he played bad notes in two” was Serge’s acid comment. Doubtless he would have been more satisfied with Joe Mondragon, who was unavailable. Apart from this, and as might be expected when the bulk of these musicians were living, travelling and working together on a daily basis, the session went smoothly.

The venue was once again the C.P. MacGregor Studios. This location became Russell’s favorite because of its marvelous acoustics, much helped by the fact that the studio itself was a large, high-ceilinged room and the resident perfectly tuned Steinway piano an important added bonus.

C.P. “Chick” McGregor, an ex-musician and bandleader, opened his studios at 729 South Western Avenue, Hollywood in the early 1930s. His primary aim was to establish a library of recordings to be leased, through his own West Coast Transcriptions Company, to the rapidly growing radio industry. Nat ‘King’ Cole and his trio, in their early days, worked virtually as McGregor’s house rhythm section for a while.

The most valuable contributions to these eight performances (four numbers, each heard in two takes) are by Berman and Chaloff. The trumpeter’s remarkable facility and good taste are evident on Curbstone Scuffle. Berman’s gift lay in making the complex sound simple, and even he didn’t always understand how this was achieved in the spontaneity of the moment. On one occasion, Lennie Tristano brought in a difficult chart for the Herman band to rehearse. When they ran it through, Sonny Berman complained about an especially hard passage commenting: “I can’t make that thing. Anything I can do about it?” To which Tristano replied: ”Well, I wrote it down. I heard Sonny Berman play it on a solo on the radio one night.” Lennie was talking to Berman but was unaware of the fact! Sonny was dead four months after these sides were recorded, and sadly was, an early casualty of heroin addiction that would plague the jazz community for a couple of decades. Chaloff would eventually follow the same path. Pianist Ralph Burns, heard to advantage on Blue Serge, was responsible for the arrangement of Nocturne (also known as Moonburns) while Shorty Rogers, probably present at the session although as a non-playing participant, arranged Curbstone Scuffle. Phillips plays with subtle grace on Nocturne and Woodchopper’s Holiday, a far cry from his screaming jam session jousts with Illinois Jacquet which left many believing him to be a tasteless honker.

Somebody Loves Me shows Harris’ trombone playing to be uncommonly original and, but for the emergence of J.J. Johnson, one feels that he would have had far greater influence. Johnson’s concentration on speed and extreme clarity of tone dictated the direction in which the trombone developed through the bop era and beyond. It became an orthodoxy, cutting the instrument off from a heritage of smears, slides and mute effects stretching back into jazz prehistory. It was not until the arrival of free jazz in the 1960s that this heritage began to be explored once again.

With this varied and always stimulating date in the bag, Russell felt greater confidence in his label’s enterprise. He had determined from the outset that it was not the producer’s role to meddle or instruct musicians who knew their own business best. He backed their judgment and was rewarded here, and in the bulk of the sessions, with performances that did justice to the participants and enhanced Dial’s reputation.


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  The Others
Some of the most interesting music in this set are with the bands that dont include Parker. Not that the Parker isnt over the top terrific, but there are lots of other bands and musicians who are excellent.
I bought this set six months ago and I finally had time to listen to the whole thing. In my opinion, if youre into bebop, this is a no-brainer: if you can afford it, get this set. Sound quality is great but I find that evaluating sound quality is always a highly subjective matter. What is important here is the music and having all of this material in the same set is the reason I bought this. I am glad I did.
  A must have
Simply put this is a must have for every collector to have in his/her collection of great and even not so great jazz music. For its importance in historical terms as well as some really good music it is a must have.
  A disappointment in terms of sound quality
On paper, this release could and should have been monumental in terms of sheer scope and execution. Unfortunately, it fails in one of the most important aspects of box sets of recorded music: the sound quality. Going by Mosaics track record, it should have been great — but it appears it fell into the hands of the wrong team. Claiming to not having harmed the music in any way is a gross misstatement from the producers. Listen to the SoundCloud samples provided above: anyone with decent ears will recognise the way how these tracks were mistreated. The sound is dulled by digital noise reduction; you can clearly hear its artifacts in the decay of notes. No matter how much the producers insist on it not having been used but some other process instead, it doesnt really matter in the end. The sound is over-processed. And to add insult to injury, fake stereo ambiance was used on what should have been plain mono tracks. If you think that the SoundCloud samples are misrepresenting what is on the CDs, you are wrong. Its just how it sounds on the CDs as well. I am sorry to have bought this set to extra difficulty and expense, as I am in Europe. Too bad, since everything else in terms of packaging and selection is top-notch, as expected.
  Absolutely worth it
Respectfully disagree with the reviewer who said the sound was disappointing. I have lived with most of this music for more than 45 years, and this is fine, vivid sound. In particular the remastering of the Parker material is much better than the unbelievably inconsistent sound on the Spotlite CD sets. Even though I know this music and own most of it in various forms, I find that having the performances together programmed in this way makes me hear them freshly. The reason I gave it four stars instead of five is the booklet. The session-by-session annotations are worthwhile, but many of the photos, and all of the Parker images, are tired images that we have seen over and over for decades now. Hard to believe that with the much-touted access the compilers had to the Ross Russell archives they couldnt have come up with more fresh visual material. But otherwise I am very pleased with this set.
  Dups, Trips & Quads
Id be all over this release but for two reasons. First, the set includes close to 90 alternate takes. Second, the alternates, instead of being placed at the end of a each disc, are presented in sequence. I dont mind a few duplicates, but when maybe two to three discs-worth of a seven disc set are given over to them, it becomes cost-prohibitive. I sure wish there was some way Mosaic could release these big, expensive boxes with or without duplicates, but I know from an economic standpoint, that makes no sense. I also realize that some fans thrive on multiple takes. I just dont happen to be one of them.
  Dups, Trips & Quads
Id be all over this release but for two reasons. First, the set includes close to 90 alternate takes. Second, the alternates, instead of being placed at the end of a each disc, are presented in sequence. I dont mind a few duplicates, but when maybe two to three discs-worth of a nine disc set are given over to them, it becomes cost-prohibitive. I sure wish there was some way Mosaic could release these big, expensive boxes with or without duplicates, but I know from an economic standpoint, that makes no sense. I also realize that some fans thrive on multiple takes. I just dont happen to be one of them.
  The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions #260
I have many of these recordings on other CD releases. This is far and away the best sounding release I own. As is typical for Mosaic, the packaging and book are excellent. The CDs sound as good as they probably ever are going to. This one is a no-brainer.
  Just for the sound
I dont see how you can claim no music was lost in the sound processing. Listen to Relaxin at Camarillo on the Ken Burns Jazz set and hear ALL the music--plus a good bit of noise and even distortion. But so much more life, so much more detail, so much more punch, so much more viscera that way. Even the Spotlite LPs of 1970, no paragons of fidelity, have a less adulterated sound. I think buyers of an expensive set aimed at connoisseurs want to hear everything, and can stand some noise. At the very least, giving the world non-bandwidth limited masters would differentiate your product from all the other digital versions out there. Would love to hear this redone the way the Robert Johnson set was by Legacy.

The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions (#260)
The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions (#260)
Limited Edition: 7,500 copies
9 CDs - $149.00

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