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Small Combos 1946-1949

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Album Review

1946-1949: Small Combos is a collection of classic jazz performed in groups of three to six, usually held together by a famous horn player. The combos featured on this disc are all quite accomplished, featuring big names like Charlie Parker and reliable jazz performers like Wardell Gray. Much of the material featured here is quite slow and open, emphasizing the general cool atmosphere that much of this music evokes. The Wardell Gray Quartet makes up a good portion of the disc, performing nine of the 20 songs found here. Their relaxed jams provide some of the best music on the disc, whether it be the gentle bop of "Man I Love," the shuffled bounce of "Stoned," or the crisp saxophone of "Sweet Lorraine." Other artists make worthwhile contributions to the compilation, notably the Dexter Gordon Quintet, with their fast moving "Chase," and the Charlie Parker New Stars and their incredible "Cheers." The only real deterrent to buying this CD is the varying sound quality; some of the songs sound like they have been recorded from old radio and television shows, while others are pristine studio recordings. But the music is still very good, and fans of classic jazz will find a wealth of quality material here.


Born: 13 February 1921 in Oklahoma City, OK

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s

Wardell Gray was one of the top tenors to emerge during the bop era (along with Dexter Gordon and Teddy Edwards). His Lester Young-influenced tone made his playing attractive to swing musicians as well as younger modernists. He grew up in Detroit, playing in local bands as a teenager. Gray was with Earl Hines during 1943-1945, recording with him (1945). That same year, he moved to Los Angeles and he became a major part of the Central Avenue scene, having nightly tenor battles with Dexter Gordon;...
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