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Classic Savoy Be-Bop Sessions 1945-49 (#264)Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set
Steve Marlowe and Jonathan Horwich, who mastered our Dial boxed set, have performed miracles. The music plays cleanly with a new depth and balance that defies belief for material recorded in the late ‘40s.
Release Date: Mid-late November
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies
10 CDs - $169.00
Be-Bop From The Moment Of Its Creations
We've spared no expense to bring these recordings back to life.
You will hear detail and clarity never heard before!
If you've been a Mosaic customer in the past, you know we like to set the record straight, and we like to do it in a way that says it won't need to be done again. That often includes hunting down original source material in different vaults around the globe or in the hands of private collectors, questioning any witnesses or participants, and unleashing technology that brings the recordings back to life - quite often with sound no one has ever heard before.
You won't have any trouble recognizing the names of these musicians - they are among bebop's most renowned and celebrated. And you may know some of the sides themselves, as Savoy Records has gone through a few reappraisals and has been anthologized over the years.
But trust us: you've never had an opportunity to own a collection this comprehensive. And you've never heard these recordings sounding the way they sound in this 10-CD collection, CLASSIC SAVOY BE-BOP SESSIONS 1945-1949.
We intentionally avoided the Charlie Parker Savoy recordings (which were his first as a leader), as they have been endlessly available and many of you probably own them in some form. Instead, we've focused on all the other bebop artists signed by Teddy Reig, most of whom were leading groups for the first time, and all of whom were carving bebop out of unformed rocks and boulders for all of time, as the recording machines rolled.
Alongside our Dial Modern Jazz anthology, this is quite literally where the story of this music begins on records.
Their First Sessions As Leaders
The sessions spawned so many firsts. On these CDs, you'll hear the very first sessions led by Dexter Gordon, Kai Winding, Allen Eager, J.J. Johnson (including sideman Cecil Payne's first recordings ever), Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt and Kenny Dorham, Ray Brown, Fats Navarro, Ray Brown, Serge Chaloff, Kenny Hagood, Leo Parker, and Brew Moore.
Also included are reputation-making sessions for Tadd Dameron (both under his name and on another session led by Navarro), Howard McGhee, Kenny Clarke, and Milt Jackson, whose bebop conversion changed the course of vibes playing forever.
But as much as this is the story of musicians inventing a new musical vocabulary and tapping unknown emotions in its listeners, it is also the story of a controversial producer, without whom it wouldn't have happened in this way.
Teddy Reig. Hustler. Handler. Jazz Lover.
Teddy Reig was born in Harlem, raised in Brooklyn, but early on claimed jazz clubs as his home and jazz as his adopted heritage. He never finished high school, choosing instead to befriend musicians and be anywhere near the music he could be. By 22, he was a regular on 52nd Street, even renting space near the clubs where he could make breakfast for musicians and give them a place to flop at 2:00 AM. Unlike a lot of the other more arrogant, bullying hustlers and blusterers in the music business, Reig seemed to really love the music.
As a band boy early in his career, he was in charge of dealing with musicians' gear and music, and arranging for any daily needs they might have, including one or two needs that might not be entirely legal. The gig gave him plenty of opportunity to hang out with musicians at the clubs, on the road, and in hotels.
Think of the opportunity: it's the early 1940s, when there is a recording ban in the music industry. You're Teddy Reig, at the clubs every night steps away from a brewing musical revolution. And no one outside a couple of dozen nightclub listeners knows about it. When Teddy finally got the chance to supervise recordings, he zeroed in on that sound.
Promotion to Producer
In his job with Herman Lubinsky's Savoy Records, Reig was tasked initially with hustling the bands through their recording responsibilities, but eventually it led to a promotion as producer at the sessions. All his time side-by-side with musicians at all hours and in all states of effectiveness had left him with an unerring sense of how to get the best possible work out of them without wasting valuable session time.
Reig was no angel, and was probably cutting corners right and left throughout his career. But his ears were amazing, especially for the new sound of bop that was coming out of the clubs in New York and was unrepresented on records.
Thanks to the breadth of this new collection, listeners can hear a wide range of styles and points of view that Reig was hearing that qualify as be-bop.
So Many Styles, All Be-Bop.
Dexter Gordon's first session as a leader was also Reig's first pure bebop session, and on it Dexter already displays his sure-footed gait, landing unerringly on notes you don't anticipate just outside your expectations, like a mountain goat finding rocks to keep from tumbling.
Howard McGhee was dedicated to the emerging style but his tenderness, despite the speed of a composition, marked him as an original. Like many others in this group. Fats Navarro spent time with Dizzy Gillespie and Eckstine and was influenced by Dizzy. However, he chose a sweeter tone. (He co-leads with Gil Fuller, a writer with immense talent who gets his own set as well). Leo Parker, also a former Gillespie and Eckstine sideman, idolized Charlie Parker. He found ways to soar like Bird, but on baritone saxophone. Just a couple years older that Leo, Serge Chaloff had been one of the Four Brothers in the Woody Herman saxophone section but is credited as the first major bebop leader on baritone saxophone. He also led a date for Savoy.
J.J. Johnson was cool before cool was cool. He was so fleet on an instrument unsuited for bebop that many believed (erroneously) he was playing an instrument with valves. Kai Winding, when soloing alongside Johnson, could be mistaken for him, but on his own he played more delicately.
Always considered one of bebop's leaders, Sonny Stitt was such a disciple of Charlie Parker's that - on alto at least - he might at times sound just like him. Playing tenor gave him an opportunity to find his own voice. He was just 22 when he co-led a session with Kenny Dorham. Dorham was only 21.
In sharp contrast to Stitt was Stan Getz, whose playing was lyrical as opposed to the aggressive sound of many early be-boppers. And he established an almost unparalleled brilliance as an improviser. Keeping company with Fats Navarro and Al Haig, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis came at the task of leading a session in the bebop idiom a little handicapped by his swing-era vibrato and huge sound, but as a born extrovert he stands alongside the others handily.
A man who would go on to dominate in polls and awards on his instrument for decades, Ray Brown played bass with taste, drive and meticulous finesse. Pianist Tadd Dameron, actually more of a composer/arranger than a performer, displayed how vital writing talent would become in the new vein. And vocalist Kenny Hagood, known primarily for his performance with Miles Davis on The Birth of the Cool, shows off his ear and pitch, and his session is significant for the arrangements by John Lewis.
Brew Moore was so compatible with Herman's Herd that on later recordings he would be dubbed one of the Five Brothers (alongside Getz, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, with Allen Eager, another saxophonist who was a leader on early Savoy sessions). Like Dexter, he admired Lester Young so much that traces of his approach harken back to Young's languid sound.
Rounding out the collection are sessions by Kenny Clarke and Milt Jackson. Clarke had already revolutionized drumming by taking time-keeping away from the bass drum and reassigning that duty to the cymbal, freeing up a foot to accent the soloists or counterpoint the melody. While he discounted the innovation as his own, the honor has stuck with him. About Milt Jackson, what can be said that hasn't already attached itself to his name? He was simply the best ever, whose warmth was matched by tremendous sense of rhythm and an ability to express himself.
Astonishing Sound Quality
Listening through the sessions spanning just five years, it's clear that as leaders and soloists these musicians' mastery and confidence increased the more they re-entered the studio.
It's also clear how far technology has advanced. We're particularly thrilled with what's happening in sound processing, and that we can release this music as it has never been heard before. Steve Marlowe restored and mastered this entire set using Bit Density Processing, and along with Jonathan Horwich of International Phonograph, has produced magical results. They are the same team that restored the music on our Dial collections, and all we can say is, you won't believe your ears.
Bob Porter wrote us an essay on Reig for our exclusive brochure. He knows the subject well, having worked alongside Reig for earlier re-issues from the Savoy catalog. Writer and jazz broadcaster Neil Tesser handles the musical analysis - he's a recent recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
With no photos from the actual sessions available, we've included 49 others of these musicians from the era by the inimitable Francis Wolff. As you might expect, they are wonderful, and many have never been published before this.
Our set includes 216 tracks from 34 sessions across 10 CDs, with many alternate takes so you can evaluate the evolution of a tune as the music itself was evolving. We've also taken the opportunity to amplify and correct mistakes in the discographies on some sessions.
It's taken nearly 70 years to put this collection together, and it's a good bet nothing like it will appear again in your lifetime. As with every Mosaic collection, our supply will be strictly limited worldwide, and we urge you to order yours soon.
Read More About Classic Savoy Be-Bop Sessions:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »
- Audio Quality
- Sample Session Notes
Restoration and mastering were done by Steve Marlowe utilizing Bit Density Processing, in association with Jonathan Horwich of International Phonograph, Inc., using the original lacquer transfers made by Jack Towers, Rudy Van Gelder and Steven Lasker among others. Marlowe and Horwich, who mastered our Dial boxed set, have performed miracles. The music plays cleanly with a new depth and balance that defies belief for material recorded in the late ‘40s.
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Classic Savoy Be-Bop Sessions
In the absence of photography from the actual Savoy sessions, we have unearthed 49 magnificent Francis Wolff photograph from the same era. Many of these images have never been published before. Subjects range from the giants like Bud Powell, Tadd Dameron, Art Blakey and Fats Navarro to seldom photographed greats like Shadow Wilson, Allen Eager and Kenny Hagood.
(A) Dexter Gordon – October 30, 1945
The first bebop session under Reig’s supervision produced a handful of gems – no surprise given the leader involved. The best known and most durable of the original bop tenor players, Gordon borrowed from the instrument’s two Swing Era avatars, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, to create one of the most recognizable styles in jazz history, hearty as well as nimble.
The only alternate take from this session (“Blow Mr. Dexter”) gives a sure insight into Gordon’s methodology, not just for that tune but also for the entire session. The arrangement features two Gordon solos, split by a brief piano break. On the alternate, his solos are jittery and relatively formulaic, but by the second take, you could say that Dexter Takes Charge: he’s added a tenor intro, and his calmer, more lyric improvising hints at the master melodist he would become, as he settled into a characteristically unflappable groove for the remaining tracks. One of the great illusionists, Gordon includes a quote from “Sonny Boy” on “Dexter’s Deck” (2:03) and a childhood taunt (2:38) on “Dexter’s Cuttin’ Out.”
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