Al Grey & Billy Mitchell - Studio Recordings

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Al Grey and Billy Mitchell's musical paths first crossed in various bands led by prominent jazz leaders. After pursuing separate musical endeavors, fate brought them back together in the exciting Count Basie organization during the late 1950s, where they became key members of the band. Their time with Basie lasted until the late 1960 when they decided to chart their own course and co-lead an impressive sextet.

In these two sessions in 1962, under Grey's leadership, the group became a septet with pianist Floyd Morris joining in the first session and pianist Earl Washington in the second. The front line, featuring Grey and Mitchell, also included trumpeter Dave Burns and the exceptional young vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Completing the lineup were the strong bassist Herman Wright and the vigorous drummer Eddie Williams.

The first five selections are from the “Snap your Fingers” album. The septet's musical approach emphasized hard swing with a touch of carefree exuberance, humor and a conscious return to the fundamentals of healthy, fun and spontaneous swing, while incorporating updates. Grey was in fine snarling form through his mute, and blowing some slippery open horn. In Melba Liston's lovely ballad Just Waiting, Mitchell outsides playing it in a wonderfully relaxed and smooth way.

The second session includes the “Night Song” album, on which Grey's big, broad shouldered trombone swaggers across all the tracks. Mitchell, who has a relatively minor role on the album, is provocative whenever he appears. On the track Stardust, he delivers a beautiful verse that sets the stage for an excellent solo from Grey, which is followed by a brilliant muted trumpet from Burns. Earl Washington, for his part, shines on his only solo on Stella by Starlight. The last track, Dirty Low Down Blues, was released only on a single, without personnel details.

This set proves that Grey and Mitchell were good established jazz musicians, whose friendship and musical partnership left an indelible mark on the history of jazz.

—Jordi Pujol


SKU 8427328611381
Barcode # 8427328611381
Brand Fresh Sound

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