SIX VALVES: DON ELLIOTT AND RUSTY DEDRICK
Featuring the modern jazz compositions of DICK HYMAN
Don Elliott (tp) Lyle (Rusty) Dedrick (tp) Dick Hyman (p) Mundell Lowe (g) Eddie Safranski (b) Don Lamond (drs)
‘Elliott is only trumpet on When Your Lover Has Gone; Dedrick on Easy on Remember)
New York; March 16 and 17, 1955
Vampire Till Ready (5:06) (Hyman)
When Your Lover Has Gone (5:06) (Swan)
Gargantuan Chant (4:41) (Hyman)
Your Own Iron (5:00) (Hyman)
Easy to Remember (4:56) (Rodgers and Hart)
Dominick Seventh (5:08) (Hyman)
In this album, six highly talented jazz musicians are stressing experimentation (in both paying and writing). But since "Experimentation" can easily be taken as something of a dirty word, signifying all sorts of abstruse activity that leaves the normal listener far behind, it seems best to begin by noting a few ground rules:
This is music that swings, that has a beat, and is melodic. And although it may be considered as "cool" jazz, it does not lack for warmth, hear or guts. For these six men have far too much taste, skill and experience ever to forget such eternal truths of jazz. In short, whatever else this may be, it never neglects to be articulate and exciting jazz.
Dick Hyman, one of the most rewarding of the younger composer-musicians, has created for this date four varied tunes, all designed to emphasize contrapuntal effects. Because the focus is on melodic and harmonic interweavings, only one kind of horn has been used, in addition to a full rhythm-section foundation. You might say that the path has been cleared, instrumentally speaking, to permit the music to develop along horizontal rather than vertical lines.
What is demonstrated thereby, among other things, is that it's quite possible to build a very rich and full variety of jazz sound without need for a "normal" variety of different brasses and reeds going off on their own separate tonal tangents. The trumpets of Don Elliot and Rusty Dedrick, somewhat similar in overall jazz 'feel,' but differing in approach, technique and general sound, are able to work with, around, and counter to each other (as well as speaking out individually) in both arranged and ad lib sequences.
The result is that these two fine horn men make intricate, interesting and quite full use of their talents and of the capacities of their instruments. The result also is a brilliant example of the experimental jazz mood of today, an indication of the ever-expanding and apparently limitless boundaries of both jazz thought and jazz performance. The extensive use of counterpoint in combination with the tow-horn-alone set-up should perhaps not be described as completely unique (there is Jay and Kai; and besides, "unique! is a dangerously dogmatic word). but is surely highly unusual and worthwhile.
The "Six Valves" of the album titled belong of course to the respective horns of Elliot and Dedrick. Don is probably the foremost current exponent of being both a jack of almost all trades and master of them, too. Best known for his work on vibraphone (he first attracted attention with the George Shearing group in 1950-51), he is also outstanding on mellophone and bongos, and no slouch as a vocalist. Trumpet was his first instrument, back in his Somerville, N.J., high school days, but he has rarely before had opportunity to demonstrate at such length how much he can do with this horn.
Rusty Dedrick, born in 1918 in Delevan (near Buffalo), N.Y., began with the big bands of Red Norvo and Claude Thornhill before the war. He spent most of 1946-47 with Ray McKinley. Rusty has since played briefly with Thornhill again and with Ralph Flanagan, but has occupied himself mostly with TV, radio and night-club band work, while concentrating increasingly on his own writing and arranging (he has been a student of both Stefan Wolpe and Paul Creston). Like an unfortunately large number of talents largely buried in sidemen's jobs, Dedrick is much respected by fellow musicians but virtually unknown to the jazz public - a condition that should and just might be remedied by this LP.
Dick Hyman is New York-born (in 1927) and attended Columbia College, where he was first intrigued by counterpoint and did his composing (a college show, then an off-Broadway musical). He traveled to Europe in 1950, with Benny Goodman, but has mostly played a variety of New York spots with an even wider variety of associates - having worked and/or recorded with, among others, Roy Eldridge, Max Kaminsky, Lester Young, Flip Phillips and Tony Scott. He has also written arrangements for Scott, and has done TV. Currently he is involved with an early-morning N.B.C. radio show that boasts the remarkable rhythm section to be heard on this album.
Hyman and guitarist Mundell Lowe not only add two more solo voices here, but complement the trumpet team with a second set of close-knit interweavings. As for Don Lamond and Eddie Safranski, formerly mainstays of respectively the Woody Herman and Stan Kenton bands, their contribution is best indicated by noting that the different takes on each of these compositions kept coming out exactly equal in length (with sometimes maybe a two or three second variation). As an exhibition of firm and immaculate tempo, this is not likely to be topped very often.
The two standard ballads here of course speak for themselves, as occasions for Don and Rusty each to take off on his own. The four originals are characterized by quick interplay between horns and constant exchanges of lead and second-trumpet parts. These you'll have to follow by ear or take on faith; an attempt to chart them here could hardly hope to be either coherent or very helpful. But the following summary should serve to identify breaks and choruses:
Vampire Till Ready, which is roughly in sonata form, opens with a statement of the theme that offers the first tastes of trumpet interplay. The four alternating breaks that follow are begun by Dedrick. After the guitar-piano duet, the first long solo is Elliot's; then comes a muted chorus by Rusty. Don is heard first in the short series of alternating breaks after the solos, and again after the two-horn interlude.
Gargantuan Chant is "the blues with a few switches." Both horns use plunger mutes in the opening section; the first, open trumpet solo after Hyman's solo is by Dedrick; the muted horn following the succeeding two-trumpet interlude is Elliot's.
Your Own Iron opens with theme and counter-melody stated by both horns, then a brief two-trumpet interlude followed by successive solos by Don. Rusty (with mute) and Lowe, with another two-horn interlude before the ensemble close. (This title, incidentally, is a Will Bradley expression meaning, roughly, "your own idea." The other three titles are best described as outrageous puns.)
Dominick Seventh: after both horns handle the opening, there's an Elliot solos, then Dedrick (with mute). The alternation of seven brief breaks that follow are begun and ended by Don, with Rusty still using a cup mute.
Other Riverside LPs in a modern vein include:
Randy Weston plays Cole Porter (RLP 2508)
Randy Weston Trio, with At Blakey (RLP 2513)
Sarah Vaughan Sings, with John Kirby’s Orchestra (RLP 2511)
“A Woman in Love” – Barbara Lea Sings, with Billy Taylor and His Trio and Johnny Windhurst (RLP 2518)
Produced by Bill Grauer and Orrin Keepnews
Cover by Paul Weller
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
418 West 49th Street New York 19, N.Y.