Happy Birthday Wardell Gray
February 13, 2011 6:05 PM Subscribe
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream (11 comments total)
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Exactly ninety years ago today jazz saxophonist Wardell Gray
was born. While never a household name, among enthusiasts Gray
is remembered as a gifted bebop soloist with a relaxed style and warm tone. Here he is playing Taking a Chance on Love
(1952), Blue Lou
(1948?), A Sinner Kissed An Angel
(1950), One for Prez
(1946), The Squirrel
, & w/Dexter Gordon on The Chase
(1952; Gray takes the 2nd solo).
Along with Gordon, Gray was part of the L.A. jazz scene in the 1940s and 50s (a scene that included such players as Hampton Hawes, Teddy Edwards, Sonny Criss, Art Pepper, etc). He also played with such notables as Earl Hines, Benny Goodman, Erroll Garner, Count Basie, Annie Ross, Art Farmer, and Gerald Wilson.
Tragically, Gray's drug habit has led to some speculation about the mystery
surrounding his untimely death: in 1955 his body turned up in the desert outside Las Vegas. There is even a pretty good mystery-genre novel
based (loosely) on his death.