Jazz at 100 Hour 29: Tadd Dameron – Fats Navarro – Sonny Stitt – JJ Johnson (1946 – 1950)

Tadd Dameron – Fats Navarro

In the past several hours of Jazz at 100, we have featured the music of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Max Roach. In this hour, we will continue to present bebop innovators – pianist/composer Tadd Dameron and his frequent (but short-lived) collaborator Fats Navarro, the next great bebop trumpeter after Dizzy Gillespie, and two of the greatest and longest-lived bebop soloists, Bird’s rival – alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt who recorded until 1982 and the first significant bebop trombonist JJ Johnson, who was active in music until 1996.

Tadd Dameron.
“Almost from the start of the bop movement, Dameron’s songs had been favored by the new generation of jazz players, with Sarah Vaughan recording ‘If You Could See Me Now’ and Gillespie relying on ‘Hot House’ (Dameron’s reworking of ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’) as a regular feature number. Many of his other pieces—‘Good Bait,’ ‘Our Delight,’ and ‘Lady Bird’—have also become part of the standard jazz repertoire.” – Ted Gioia

If You Could See Me Now. Sarah Vaughan with Tadd Dameron Orchestra
(Freddie Webster-tp, Hank Ross-bcl, Leroy Harris-as, Leo Parker-bs, Bud Powell-p, Ted Sturgis-b, Kenny Clarke-d, Sarah Vaughan-voc). 5/7/1946.
Good Bait. Tadd Dameron Sextet
(Fats Navarro-tp, Rudy Williams-as, Allen Eager-ts, Milt Jackson-vib, Curly Russell-b, Kenny Clarke-d). 8/29/1948.
Our Delight. Tadd Dameron Sextet
(Fats Navarro-tp, Ernie Henry-as, Charlie Rouse-ts, Tadd Dameron-p, Nelson Boyd-b, Shadow Wilson-d). 9/26/1948.

Lady Bird. Tadd Dameron Sextet
(Fats Navarro-tp, Allen Eager-ts, Wardell Gray-ts, Tadd Dameron-p, Curly Russell-b, Kenny Clarke-d). 9/13/1948. (Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz)
“We might limit comment to the truly gorgeous trumpet solo of Fats Navarro on this recording. Navarro was dead in his middle twenties, and this performance shows how far he had gone beyond absorbing Dizzy Gillespie and into building a style of his own… The two tenor saxophonists were both in different degrees influenced by Lester Young, but Wardell Gray (who has the second tenor solo) has obviously gone further beyond the master than had Allen Eager.” – Martin Williams in the notes from Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz

“Dameron’s spare melodies and plush voicings with this band… prefigured the cool-school breakthrough of the following year.” – Gary Giddens & Scott DeVeaux

Fats Navarro.
“Navarro managed to incorporate the intricate improvisational lines of Gillespie into a more controlled style. His was a music of contradictions. His tone was sweeter and smoother than Gillespie’s—with greater use of the tongue in articulating notes, in contrast to Dizzy’s more slurred attack—but his overall style was still hot and swinging. Much of Navarro’s best work was as a sideman: with Bud Powell on ‘Wail,’ on ‘The Squirrel’ and ‘The Chase’ with Tadd Dameron, alongside Benny Goodman on ‘Stealin’ Apples,’ or on ‘Ornithology’ with Charlie Parker.” – Ted Gioia

Wail. Bud Powell’s Modernists
(Fats Navarro-tp, Sonny Rollins-ts, Bud Powell-p, Tommy Potter-b, Roy Haynes-d). 8/9/1949.
Stealin’ Apples. Benny Goodman Septet
(Fats Navarro-tp, Benny Goodman-cl, Wardell Gray-ts, Gene DiNovi-p, Mundell Lowe-g, Clyde Lombardi-b, Mel Zelnick-d). 9/9/1948.
Ornithology. Charlie Parker Quintet
(Fats Navarro-tp, Charlie Parker-as, Bud Powell-p, Curly Russell-b, Art Blakey-d). 5/15/1950.

Sonny Stitt with Dizzy Gillespie.
“When Gillespie had returned to New York the previous year, he had hired alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt to take Parker’s place in the band. Stitt, who had apprenticed in Billy Eckstine’s orchestra, was the only altoist on the scene who could approach Parker in terms of speed and technique. His style may have been derivative—despite his protestations to the contrary, his approach often sounded like a careful imitation of Bird’s—but Stitt, at his best, was a spectacular soloist. In jam sessions he could be a devastating opponent, and Stitt delighted in such encounters, with many of his finest performances made in the heat of battle with Gene Ammons, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, and others.” – Ted Gioia

One Bass Hit (Part 1). Dizzy Gillespie Sextet
(Dizzy Gillespie-tp, Sonny Stitt-as, Milt Jackson-vib, Al Haig-p, Ray Brown-b, Kenny Clarke-d). 5/15/1946.
That’s Earl, Brother. Dizzy Gillespie Sextet
(Dizzy Gillespie-tp, Sonny Stitt-as, Milt Jackson-vib, Al Haig-p, Ray Brown-b, Kenny Clarke-d). 5/15/1946.

JJ Johnson.
“To Johnson fell the unenviable responsibility of translating the advances of modern jazz to the language of the slide trombone. The speed and intricacy of bebop lines made them especially recalcitrant to this transformation, and it is a credit to Johnson’s virtuosity and tenacity that he succeeded so well at such a herculean task.” – Ted Gioia

Elora. JJ Johnson’s Boppers
(JJ Johnson-tb, Sonny Stitt-as, John Lewis-p, Nelson Boyd-b, Max Roach-d). 10/17/1949.
Teapot. JJ Johnson’s Boppers
(JJ Johnson-tb, Sonny Stitt-as, John Lewis-p, Nelson Boyd-b, Max Roach-d). 10/17/1949.

Mad Bebop. JJ Johnson’s Beboppers
(JJ Johnson-tb, Cecil Payne-as, Bud Powell-p, Leonard Gaskin-b, Max Roach-d). 6/26/1946.
Yesterdays. JJ Johnson’s Bop Quintet
(JJ Johnson-tb, Leo Parker-bs, Hank Jones-p, Al Lucas-b, Shadow Wilson-d). 12/24/1947.

Our explorations of bebop have focused primarily on the music of New York, however Los Angeles, the other American entertainment capital had its own vital scene. In the next hour, we will hear the music of LAs Central Avenue from performers such as trumpeter Howard McGhee, tenor saxophonists Dexter Gordon and Wardell Grey, pianist Dodo Marmarosa and bassist/composer Charles Mingus.

The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. Columbia P6 11891.
BeBop Spoken Here. Proper Records 1010
Bebop Story: Vol. 011, Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker Vol. 1 (1945). The World’s Greatest Jazz Collection
Bebop Story: Vol. 018, Dizzy Gillespie Vol. 3 (1946-47) . The World’s Greatest Jazz Collection
The Fats Navarro Story. Proper Records PROPERBOX 11
The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1. Blue Note CDP 7815032
The Fabulous Fats Navarro, Vol. 1. Blue Note 9135
Complete Blue Note/Capitol Recordings – Fats Navarro & Tadd Dameron. Blue Note 33373
Charlie Parker – One Night at Birdland. TriStar Music 35256
Sonny Stitt – Stitt’s Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952. Fantasy / Prestige 30043
JJ Johnson – Origins: the Savoy Sessions. Savoy Jazz 17127

DeVeaux, Scott. 1997. The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History. Berkeley, CA. University of California Press.
Giddens, Gary & DeVeaux, Scott. 2009. JAZZ. New York, NY. WW Norton & Company.
Chapter 12. Cool Jazz and Hard Bop
Gioia, Ted. 2011. The History of Jazz. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 6. Modern Jazz
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1
Complete Blue Note/Capitol Recordings – Fats Navarro & Tadd Dameron

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