COUNTERPOINT FOR 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 to Remember. Theme and Tube is by two trumpets, unaccompanied.)
New York; March 16 and 17, 1955; April 23, 1956
1. Mine (3:05) (Gershwin)
2. Vampire Till Ready (5:06) (Hyman)
3. Your Own Iron (5:00) (Hyman)
4. Easy To Remember (RD) (4:56) (Rodgers and Hart)
5. The Bull Speaks (3:17) (Hyman)
1. Dominick Seventh (5:08) (Hyman)
2. Gargantuan Chant (4:41) (Hyman)
3. When Your Lover Has Gone (DE) (5:06) (Swan)
4. Henry's Mambo (2:11) (cng) (Hyman)
5. Theme and Inner Tube (1:58) (Hyman)
When six of these selections were originally issued in 1955 as a 10-inch LP (under the title of "Six Valves"), they received amazingly enthusiastic critical comment. This has led Riverside to expand this material, by the addition of four new numbers, into the present new 12-inch release. Here is a sampling of reviews of the earlier album:
"An excellent disk - produced, performed, and recorded with intelligence and taste . . . The material is bright and moving and Elliott and Dedrick attack it with cleanliness, clarity and taste."
- JOHN S. WILSON, High Fidelity Magazine
"A particularly intriguing date. Both Elliott and Dedrick play with fine tone, individual conception, and good beat. . . . Thoroughly recommended."
- NAT HENTOFF, Down Beat
"Superb musicianship here and some remarkable two-part counterpoint. Fascinating originals by Dick Hyman."
-DAVID HALL, Hi-Fi Music at Home
This album stresses experimentation, in both playing and writing. But since "experimentation" can easily be taken as a frightening word, signifying abstruse activity that leaves the average 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. Although it may be considered as "cool" jazz, it does not lack for warmth, heart or guts. For the six talented musicians involved have far too much taste, skill and experience ever to neglect such eternal truths of jazz. In short, whatever else this may be, it is always articulate and exciting music.
Dick Hyman, one of the most rewarding of the younger compose-musicians, is emphasizing contrapuntal effects in his writing here. Because the focus is on melodic and harmonic interweaving, only one kind of horn has been used. You might say that the path has been cleared, instrumentally speaking, to permit the music to develop along horizontal rather than vertical lines.
Among the points demonstrated thereby is that it's entirely possible to build a very full and rich variety of jazz sounds without need for a "normal" variety of different reeds and brasses going off on their own separate tonal tangents. Don Elliott and Rusty Dedrick work with, around and counter to each other (as well as speaking out individually) in both arranged and improvised sequences, making intricate, interesting and quite full use of their talents and of the capacities of their instruments. The result 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 "six valves" of the album title are of course the total belonging to the horns of Elliott and Dedrick. Don is probably the foremost current example of being both a jack of all trades and master of them, too. Best known for his work on vibraphone (he first attracted attention with the George Shearing Quintet in 1950), he is also most proficient on mellophone, plays bongos, and is no slouch as a vocalist. But trumpet is admittedly his first love. (Don can be heard, mostly on vibes, with his Quartet on Riverside RLP12-206; and on trumpet - featured with Bob Corwin's quartet - on RLP12-220.)
Rusty Dedrick began with the big bands of Red Norvo and Claude Thornhill before the war. He spent most of 1946-47 with Ray McKinley and has since occupied himself mostly with TV, radio and night-club band work, while concentrating increasingly on his own writing and arranging. 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 album.
Dick Hyman has had a very wide variety of associates, having toured Europe with Benny Goodman in 1950 and having written for, worked with, and/or recorded with (among others) Roy Eldridge, Lester Young, Max Kaminsky, Mundell Lowe and Tony Scott. He has also done considerable radio and TV work, and recently broke into the popular hit-record category.
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, contrapuntal interweaving. (There's much more of the same from these two on Riverside RLP12-204: The Mundell Lowe Quartet.) As for Don Lamond and Eddie Safranski, formally mainstays of, respectively, the Woody Herman and Stan Kenton bands, their contribution is best indicated by noting that the various takes on each of these selections kept coming out exactly equal in length (with sometimes perhaps a second or two variation). As an exhibition of firm and immaculate tempo, this is not apt to be topped very often.
Two of the standards here of course speak for themselves, as occasions for Don and Rusty each to take off on his own in a warm, moving interpretation of a superior ballad. The third standard, George Gershwin's "Mine, and the seven Hyman originals are all 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 in detail could hardly hope to be either coherent of very helpful. But the following summary should serve to identify breaks and choruses:
Mine opens in an ensemble chorus in which Dedrick takes the lead and Elliott plays the counter-melody. After guitar and piano solos, Dedrick is heard in the first of four alternating individual trumpet statements. It's also Rusty on the first and third of the four short breaks that follow, and he remains the lead horn in the final ensemble. Recorded in 1956.
Vampire Till Ready, which is roughly in sonata form, opens with a statement of the theme that is a notable example of trumpet interplay. The four alternating barks that follow are begun by Dedrick. After the guitar-piano duet, the first long solo is Elliott'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. Recorded in 1955.
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. Recorded in 1955.
The Bull Speaks begins with an introduction by horn alone, with Rusty taking the lead. Following an ensemble passage, the horns are again heard in the open, with Elliott on top this time. A guitar solo is the midpoint of the number; then Elliott takes the first of the two trumpet solos. Recorded in 1956.
Dominick Seventh; after both horns handle the opening, there's an Elliott solo, then Dedrick (with mute). The alternation of seven brief breaks that follow are begun and ended by Don, with Rusty continuing to use a cup mute. Recorded in 1955.
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 chorus is by Dedrick; the muted horn following the succeeding two-trumpet break is Elliott's. Recorded in 1955.
Henry's Mambo applies the two-trumpet technique to a Latin-American motif. Elliott takes the solo following the opening ensemble and continues as the lead horn in the next passage. The later solo is by Dedrick, after which he takes the lead in the next two-trumpet sequence. Recorded in 1956.
Theme and Inner Tubes is possibly the most outrageous of Dick Hyman's several song-title puns. It is also a remarkable and perhaps inevitable tour de force, closing the album with a piece written for the trumpets only. They begin in unison; Dedrick is the lead horn on the first statement of the theme; then Elliott takes over, and thereafter it's strictly a tricky job of ball-handling. Recorded in 1956.
A High Fidelity Recording (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)
Produced by Bill Grauer and Orrin Keepnews.
Notes by Orrin Keepnews.
Cover designed by Fran Scott; photograph by Hank Parker; typography by Gene Gogerty.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS ARE released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
418 West 49th Street New York 19, N.Y.