The Wardell Gray Story

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Arwulf Arwulf
In keeping with high standards set by the U.K.'s Proper label, Proper Box 55 easily qualifies as the finest single-package anthology ever devoted to the works of tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray (1921-1955). His best recordings, which are well represented throughout this four-CD set, reveal the combined influences of Lester Young and Charlie Parker. Born in Oklahoma City, he was raised and schooled in Detroit, where he played his first professional engagements in the company of trumpeter Howard McGhee and saxophonist Big Nick Nicholas. In 1943, Gray was hired by Budd Johnson to play in the Earl Hines Orchestra. The first five tracks represent Gray's adventures with this ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Arwulf Arwulf
In keeping with high standards set by the U.K.'s Proper label, Proper Box 55 easily qualifies as the finest single-package anthology ever devoted to the works of tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray (1921-1955). His best recordings, which are well represented throughout this four-CD set, reveal the combined influences of Lester Young and Charlie Parker. Born in Oklahoma City, he was raised and schooled in Detroit, where he played his first professional engagements in the company of trumpeter Howard McGhee and saxophonist Big Nick Nicholas. In 1943, Gray was hired by Budd Johnson to play in the Earl Hines Orchestra. The first five tracks represent Gray's adventures with this exciting big band during 1945 and 1946. A more thorough sampling that reaches back to his first appearances on record in October of 1944 was released under Gray's name on the French import Masters of Jazz label in 1999, while two volumes in the Earl Hines portion of the Classics chronological series covered similar ground with comparable precision. After touring with the Hines band, Gray moved to Los Angeles and spent the years 1946-1947 recording for multiple labels as a rising star of the West Coast bop scene. This segment of Gray's career is invoked by his interactions with Howard McGhee, pianist Dodo Marmarosa, and saxophonists Dexter Gordon and Sonny Criss. A cross section of recordings made in New York and L.A. during 1948 and 1949 include several collaborations with pianist Al Haig, a Blue Note date with the Tadd Dameron Sextet, and records made with assorted bands both big and small under the leadership of Benny Goodman. The next phase of Gray's bebop odyssey is evidenced by material from two Prestige studio sessions and a nine-minute live jam on "Scrapple from the Apple," followed by some breathtaking examples of what he sounded like with bands led by Count Basie. Rather than pursuing Gray through his final sessions in 1953 and 1955, Proper devotes the entire fourth disc to choice cuts from the year 1952. These include the widely admired date with Art Farmer and Hampton Hawes, three hot numbers credited to Louis Bellson's Just Jazz All Stars, and a reunion of sorts with Dexter Gordon. This session features a rocking version of Dave Bartholomew's "I Hear You Knockin'," which is a very enjoyable example of how well this saxophonist fit into the rhythm & blues bag. Gladys Bentley sings "Jingle, Jangle Jump," a rather conventional Christmas song stretched over the prerequisite bop framework. It's interesting to note that Bentley made her first recordings back in the '20s as a vaudevillian male impersonator. Additional vocalists who pop up here and there amongst the instrumentals in this set are Billy Eckstine, Buddy Stewart, Buddy Greco, and Terry Swope. Proper's Wardell Gray Story closes with four tunes recorded live in Hollywood in September 1952 at a modified bungalow on Wiltshire Boulevard known as The Haig. Carrying 77 vintage swing and bop tracks and upholstered with exacting session data and insightful notes by Dutch jazz singer Joop Visser, Proper Box 55 is strongly recommended as a portrait of a gifted improviser and an action-packed survey of mid-20th century jazz.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/4/2003
  • Label: Proper Box Uk
  • UPC: 805520020558
  • Catalog Number: 55
  • Sales rank: 89,663

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 At the el Grotto (3:00)
  2. 2 Straight Life (2:46)
  3. 3 Let's Get Started (3:03)
  4. 4 Bamby (2:58)
  5. 5 Blue Keys (2:53)
  6. 6 Dell's Bells (2:58)
  7. 7 One for Prez (3:11)
  8. 8 The Man I Love (3:19)
  9. 9 Easy Swing (3:04)
  10. 10 The Great Lie, Pts. 1 and 2 (4:41)
  11. 11 Blue Lou (5:44)
  12. 12 Backbreaker (16:08)
  13. 13 She's Got Blues for Sale (3:03)
  14. 14 Groovin' High (6:38)
  15. 15 Hot House (6:19)
  16. 16 Bebop (7:14)
Disc 2
  1. 1 The Chase (6:50)
  2. 2 The Creep (3:29)
  3. 3 Out of Nowhere (2:47)
  4. 4 Blue 'N' Boogie (3:31)
  5. 5 Semi-Quiet (Sonny's Bop) (3:26)
  6. 6 Blue Lou (2:48)
  7. 7 How High the Moon (6:12)
  8. 8 C Jam Blues (3:51)
  9. 9 Light Gray (2:36)
  10. 10 Stoned (2:55)
  11. 11 Matter and Mind (2:45)
  12. 12 The Toupe (2:37)
  13. 13 Cookin' on Up (4:04)
  14. 14 Swedish Pastry (3:32)
  15. 15 Mary's Idea (3:13)
  16. 16 Bye Bye Blues Bop (3:49)
  17. 17 Stealin' Apples (3:09)
  18. 18 Jahbero (3:03)
  19. 19 Ladybird (2:52)
  20. 20 Symphonette (3:07)
  21. 21 Shawn (2:36)
  22. 22 The Hucklebuck (3:26)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Five Star (2:52)
  2. 2 Sugar Hill Bop (2:30)
  3. 3 In a Pinch (3:05)
  4. 4 It's the Talk of the Town (3:08)
  5. 5 Bedlam (3:07)
  6. 6 In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee (3:23)
  7. 7 Blue Lou (3:02)
  8. 8 Egg Head (2:48)
  9. 9 Twisted (3:08)
  10. 10 Southside (3:25)
  11. 11 Easy Living (4:29)
  12. 12 Sweet Lorraine (4:09)
  13. 13 A Sinner Kissed an Angel (3:11)
  14. 14 Blue Gray (2:46)
  15. 15 Grayhound (3:05)
  16. 16 Treadin' With Treadwell (3:49)
  17. 17 Scrapple from the Apple (9:09)
  18. 18 Song of the Islands (2:52)
  19. 19 One O'Clock Jump (2:57)
  20. 20 Tootsie (2:51)
  21. 21 Nails (3:32)
  22. 22 Little Pony (2:32)
  23. 23 April Skies (3:07)
Disc 4
  1. 1 Bright Boy (2:49)
  2. 2 Jackie (2:34)
  3. 3 Farmer's Market (2:50)
  4. 4 Sweet and Lovely (3:18)
  5. 5 Lover Man (2:23)
  6. 6 The Jeep Is Jumpin' (3:08)
  7. 7 Johnny Come Lately (2:49)
  8. 8 Punkin' (3:24)
  9. 9 The Rubaiyat (3:01)
  10. 10 I Hear You Knockin' (2:36)
  11. 11 Jingle, Jangle, Jump (2:27)
  12. 12 Citizen's Bop (2:54)
  13. 13 Bernie's Tune (7:08)
  14. 14 The Squirrel (9:57)
  15. 15 Taking a Chance on Love (8:03)
  16. 16 Get Happy (7:47)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Wardell Gray Primary Artist, Tenor Saxophone
Bill Douglas Trumpet
Count Basie Bass
Billy Bauer Guitar
Louie Bellson Drums
Eddie Bert Trombone
Sonny Criss Alto Saxophone
Tadd Dameron Piano
Allen Eager Tenor Saxophone
Billy Eckstine Trombone, Valve Trombone, Vocals
Art Farmer Trumpet
Russ Freeman Piano
Erroll Garner Piano
Benny Goodman Clarinet
Dexter Gordon Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Buddy Greco Piano, Vocals
Freddie Green Guitar
Al Haig Piano
Earl Hines Piano
Barney Kessel Guitar
Mundell Lowe Guitar
Shelly Manne Drums
Fats Navarro Trumpet
Jimmy Raney Guitar
Marshall Royal Alto Saxophone
Willie Smith Alto Saxophone
Lucky Thompson Tenor Saxophone
Gerald Wiggins Organ, Piano
Teddy Wilson Piano
Harry Babasin Bass
Willie Cook Trumpet
Matthew Gee Trombone
John Graas French Horn
Ray Linn Trombone
Tommy Potter Bass
Howard McGhee Trumpet
Mary Lou Williams Piano
Al Porcino Trumpet
Franny Beecher Guitar
Frank Bode Drums
Billy Byers Trombone
Jimmy Bunn Piano
Red Callender Bass
Scoops Carey Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
Harry Carney Baritone Saxophone
Clark Terry Trumpet
Kenny Clarke Drums
Harper Cosby Bass
Gene DiNovi Piano
Charlie Fowlkes Baritone Saxophone
Charlie Fox Piano
Irving Goodman Trumpet
Bennie Green Trombone
William K. "Billy" Hadnott Bass
Rene Hall Guitar
Hampton Hawes Piano
Roy Haynes Drums
Al Hendrickson Guitar
Shifty Henry Bass
Gus Johnson Drums
Tiny Kahn Drums
Al Killian Trumpet
Clyde Lombardi Bass
Joe Mondragon Bass
Larance Marable Drums
Dodo Marmarosa Piano
Art Mardigan Drums
Wendell Marshall Bass
Charles Perry Drums
Reuben Phillips Alto Saxophone
Johnny Richardson Bass
Curly Russell Bass
Rudy Rutherford Baritone Saxophone
Ziggy Schatz Trumpet
Kermit Scott Tenor Saxophone
Lloyd Smith Alto Saxophone
Buddy Stewart Vocals
Billy Strayhorn Piano
Chuck Thompson Drums
Juan Tizol Valve Trombone
Gerald Valentine Trombone
Harold "Doc" West Drums
John Williams Baritone Saxophone
Mel Zelnick Drums
Charlie Drayton Bass
Jackie Mills Drums
Gladys Bentley Vocals
Mitchell Wood Trombone
Doug Mettome Trumpet
Chick Booth Drums
Sonny Igoe Drums
Larry Molinelli Baritone Saxophone
Jimmy Lewis & the Checkers Bass
Arnold Fishkind Bass
Eddie Wasserman Tenor Saxophone
Lamar Wright Trumpet
Angelo Cicalese Alto Saxophone
George Monte Trombone
Howard Reich Trumpet
Tim Kennedy Drums
Phil Hill Piano
John "Sly" Wilson Trumpet
Robert Collier Conga
Warren Bracken Piano
Terry Swope Vocals
Mitch Goldberg Alto Saxophone
Dicky Harris Trombone
Fats Palmer Trumpet
Clifton Small Trombone
Mario Dione Trombone
Gene Thomas Bass
Technical Credits
George Gershwin Composer
Count Basie Composer
Cab Calloway Composer
Buddy Collette Composer
Tadd Dameron Composer
Art Farmer Composer
Dizzy Gillespie Composer
Benny Goodman Composer
Dexter Gordon Composer
Wardell Gray Composer
Al Haig Composer
Earl Hines Composer
Johnny Hodges Composer
Barney Kessel Composer
Cecil Payne Composer
Jimmy Raney Composer
Fats Waller Composer
Andy Gibson Composer
Neal Hefti Composer
Irving Mills Composer
Edgar Sampson Composer
Harold Arlen Composer
Dave Bartholomew Composer
Vernon Duke Composer
Shorty Rogers Arranger, Composer
Mary Lou Williams Composer
Andy Razaf Composer
Gus Arnheim Composer
David Bennett Composer
Barney Bigard Composer
Duke Ellington Composer
Johnny Green Composer
Nancy Hamilton Composer
Hampton Hawes Composer
Edward Heyman Composer
John Latouche Composer
Bernard Miller Composer
Al J. Neiburg Composer
Mitchell Parish Composer
Charlie Parker Composer
Roger "Ram" Ramirez Composer
Ralph Rainger Composer
Leo Robin Composer
Billy Strayhorn Arranger, Composer
Marty Symes Composer
Arthur Walker Contributor
Chauncey Gray Composer
Jimmy Sherman Composer
Roy Paul Joseph Composer
Bert Lown Composer
Buster Harding Composer
B. Stewart Composer
Ted Koehler Composer
Clifford R. Burwell Composer
Pearl King Composer
Morgan Lewis Composer
Harry Tobias Composer
Mack David Composer
Buggs Roberts Composer
Roy Alfred Composer
Kendall Bright Composer
Milt Orent Composer
Joop Visser Producer, Liner Notes
Jimmy Davis Composer
Frederick Hamm Composer
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