Wednesday, November 12, 2014


There are a number of reasons why Mosaic Records is one of the most revered labels in the history of jazz. First and foremost, they present rich slices of the glorious history of jazz through its most significant manifestation: the music itself. Presented in vividly captured audio perfection, Mosaic offers profoundly important music that has been either unavailable for decades or almost impossible to gather by even the most dedicated fan. Mosaic sets present the artistry of the music's greatest masters, equally focused upon the recognized immortals alongside those who never enjoyed the popularity they deserved, always delving into every recess of their unbridled creative output. Lastly, they do it all with stunningly dignified packaging and explanatory materials that make the listener feel that they are right in the midst of the moment of the music's creative inception.

With the newly released 9-disc set, The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions, every one of these qualities is hit square in the center of the bullseye. Overwhelmingly crucial historical significance to one of the most important transformative periods in jazz history; performances by artists ranging from the uppermost reaches of the jazz pantheon to under-recorded giants; a vast amount of material - 185 tracks - that would be virtually impossible to collect. Most importantly, all of the music was created with the transcendence of supreme artistry in central focus, with no concerns about commercial compromise for a wider audience.

Of course, the crown jewels of the collection are the immortal Charlie Parker sessions, long esteemed as standing alongside Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Sevens in the profound influence upon the development of jazz expression. Signing exclusively with Dial under the promise of total artistic control of his recordings, Bird's 1946-47 sessions are here with every note intact and in the company of a who's who of the bop evangelists - Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Howard McGee, Wardell Gray, J. J. Johnson, Duke Jordan, Teddy Edwards, Erroll Garner, Tommy Potter, Max Roach and other fine purveyors of the form. In addition, Parker and Dizzy (along with Flip Phillips and Teddy Wilson) are also heard on the extremely rare 1945 Red Norvo sessions, recorded for Comet Records a year before Dial came into being (and purchased some years later).

Another saxophone heavyweight, Dexter Gordon is featured on three sessions. Recorded during the time of his legendary all-night tenor battles on the L.A. scene, one session features his main sparring partner, Wardell Gray; another "battle" with Teddy Edwards; and the third features trombonist Melba Liston. Howard McGhee has two sessions, one of which features James Moody, Milt Jackson, Hank Jones and Ray Brown; the other co-led with pianist Dodo Marmarosa (who also has his own trio date included) and Edwards on tenor. The piano wizardry of Erroll Garner is represented by a brilliant solo date and a few tracks with his trio; and Dizzy also has his own sextet session featuring Lucky Thompson and Milt Jackson. The collection is rounded out with Fats Navarro and vocalist Earl Coleman, and a Sonny Berman Big 8/Ralph Burns Quintet date that includes Bill Harris, Flip Phillips and Serge Chaloff. Unequivocally, a treasure trove of remarkable music.

Dial Records, the brainchild of entrepreneur and jazz historian Ross Russell, was spawned from his Tempo Music Shop, a West Coast Mecca for jazz lovers. It was a masterpiece of timing, emerging shortly after the Musician's Union lifted its recording ban, during which Bird, Diz and the other visionaries of bebop were forging the new language outside of public view. With a post-war society aching for something new and uplifting, the new music hit like a tidal wave and Dial Records was riding its crest.

As the industry reeled with the new post-strike regulations, it was an ideal time for a smart business man to move forward, and for innovative musicians to join in. With no hindrances to their artistic freedom and the euphoric atmosphere of exploratory musicality and responsive audiences on hand, Dial Records made an enormous contribution to the jazz legacy during its short life between 1946 and 1948. And now Mosaic has recaptured that time in posterity for jazz aficionados throughout the world in its singularly spectacular manner with The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions.

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