Sunday, December 15, 2013

50 Years After Dinah Washington

DINAH Washington sessions with Junior Mance, Clark Terry, Charles Mingus, Milt Jackson, Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Harold Land, Maynard Ferguson, Lucky Thompson, etc.

Dinah Washington who once was given the title of "Queen of the Blues" and became a best-selling artist for labels such as Mercury and Roulette, died unexpectedly on December 14, 1963 at the age of 39. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of her death while her musical heritage remains almost untouched.

Dinah Washington's death certificate

"She sang lyrics very clearly and precisely," writes David Cook in his Encyclopedia of Jazz, "even as she could swoop between a cajoling whisper and a testifying shout, and she could be sexier than Vaughan, Holiday or Fitzgerald ever were. There are times in her output where she seems curiously remote, as if it where all too easy for her, or often the material or the setting are unworthy [listen to the last three songs], but surviving broadcast and live material [listen to the first session here] shows how funny and warm she could be."

As a part of Women in Jazz month, Take the "A" Train presents Dinah's legendary jam session featuring Clifford Brown. The source of the audio file is David W. Niven's collection whose commentary can be heard on this tape.

Kiyoshi Komaya in his liner note to the Japanese edition of the Dinah Jams album, which features the Brown session, explains the circumstances led to the recording of this all-star live performance:

"A high-flying jam session was held on l4th August 1954 in front of an audience in a Los Angeles studio, probably the Capitol Studio in Hollywood, which was able to boast of the most up-to-date facilities for the time. The marathon jam session held on l4th August 1954 featured Dinah as star singer, but gathered together also the all-star line-up of Junior Mance (piano), who was Dinah's regular accompanist at the time, Keeter Sens (bass), and the members of the newly formed Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet, namely Clifford Brown (trumpet), Max Roach (drums), Harold Land (tenor sax), Richie Powell (piano), and George Morrow (bass), together with the two much-acclaimed trumpeters Maynard Ferguson and Clark Terry, the latter who was then featured in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and last but not least, the West Coast alto saxophonist Herb Geller. This dazzling array of performers met on l3th August to decide upon the pieces, the line-ups and the arrangements. On the day of the recording, the audience was first of all informed that they were present at a live recording, and so it might possibly be necessary to interrupt a piece in mid-stream and start it again."

After the August 1954 date, Mr. Niven flashes back to Dina's early days in 1945, from a Grand Award reissue LP known as Dinah Washington Sings the Blues. This great line up with Lucky Thompson's All Stars features Karl George (tp), Jewel Grant (as), Lucky Thompson (ts), Gene Porter (barsax) Milt Jackson (vib), Wilbert Baranco (p), Charles Mingus (b) and  Lee Young (d), recorded in Los Angeles, CA, December 10 and 12, 1945. It worth reminding that the session is known to be Milt Jackson's first time in the studio, though I'm not totally sure about that.

The last ten minutes of the tape plays three pop songs recorded for Roulette between 1962 to 1963, featuring Ernie Royal, Cecil Payne and Milt Hinton. Other musicians in this session and the whole string section have remained unidentified.

No comments:

Post a Comment