Close friends for many years, trombonist Al Grey and tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell, colleagues and roommates in the Basie band, formed the Al Grey-Billy Mitchell Sextet in New York in January 1961, and it lasted until March 1963. Their mood and sounds were a musical anthology of highly successful contemporary groups. The arrangements generally included light, but propulsive swing band techniques applied to the freedom and spontaneity of a small group. In addition to the co-leaders, the early sextet featured pianist-composer Gene Kee, later replaced by the young and outstanding vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, who joined the group in the fall of 1961, during a West Coast tour.
Throughout its different stages, the sextet featured notable trumpeters such as Donald Byrd and Dave Burns, and on one occasion, Herbie Hancock was added on piano. The group had an immediacy and warmth that connected with the audience, due to the quality of the band, in which Grey proved himself to be a more forward-thinking player than he seemed with Basie, and Mitchell, a pure-blooded mainstream tenor. The group enjoyed considerable success and won the 1962 Down Beat International Jazz Critics Poll award as the new combo of the year. This CD collection contains live recordings of three different sextets, including previously unreleased material, captured from two radio broadcasts at Birdland.
01. Bluish Grey (Thad Jones) 4:38
02. Wild Deuce (Gene Kee) 3:25
03. On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper-Washington) 2:51
04. Bantu (Randy Weston) 3:04
05. Melba's Blues (Melba Liston) 5:48
06. Home Fries (Gene Kee) 3:12
07. Grey's Blues (Al Grey) 7:00
08. Minor on Top (Thad Jones) 6:47
09. African Lady (Melba Liston) 4:30
10. Hi Fly (Randy Weston) 9:22
CD 2 - UNRELEASED RADIO BROADCASTS
01. Home Fries (Gene Kee) 8:48
02. Minor on Top (Thad Jones) 7:49
03. On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper-Washington) 5:08
04. African Lady (Randy Weston) 5:04
05. Closing announcements 1:06
06. J & B (Billy Mitchell) 14:50
07. Melba's Blues (Melba Liston) 10:23
08. Three-Fourth Blues (Gene Kee) 7:22
09. Rompin' (Frank Foster) 8:43
Tracks #1-7, from the Al Grey-Billy Mitchell Sextet LP
“At the Museum of Modern Art” (Argo LPS 689)
Tracks #8-10, from the side B of the Al Grey LP
“Snap Your Fingers” (Argo LPS 711)
Recordings captured from two different radio broadcasts live at Birdland, hosted by jazz disc jockey 'Symphony Sid' Torin
The Al Grey and Billy Mitchell Sextet and Septet
Personnel on CD 1
Tracks #1-7: Henry Boozier, trumpet; Al Grey, trombone; Billy Mitchell, tenor & alto (#6); Gene Kee, piano & alto horn; Art Davis, bass; Jules Curtis, drums; Ray Barretto, conga.
Recorded at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, July, 6, 1961
Tracks #8-10: Donald Byrd, trumpet; Al Grey, trombone; Billy Mitchell, tenor sax; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes Herbie Hancock, piano; Herman Wright, bass; Eddie Williams, drums.
Recorded live at Birdland, New York, January 31, 1962
Personnel on CD 2
Tracks #1-5: Donald Byrd, trumpet; Al Grey, trombone; Billy Mitchell, tenor sax; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; Doug Watkins, bass; Eddie Williams, drums. MC: “Symphony Sid” Torin.
Recorded live at Birdland, New York, January 20, 1962
Tracks #6-9: Dave Burns, trumpet; Al Grey, trombone; B. Mitchell, tenor sax; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes Herman Wright, bass; Eddie Williams, drums. MC: 'Symphony Sid' Torin.
Recorded live at Birdland, New York, May 19, 1962
Original Argo back-liner notes by Dan Morgenstern
New liner notes written by Jordi Pujol
CD 1 Recordings supervised by Ralph Bass
CD 2 Recordings captured from two different radio broadcasts live at Birdland,
hosted by jazz disc jockey 'Symphony Sid' Torin.
This compilation produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol
© 2023 by Fresh Sound Records
Stereo / Mono · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas, S.L.
Listener Note: The radio recordings featured on the second CD exhibit certain distortions and flaws inherent in the original broadcasts which, despite meticulous restoration, could not be eliminated. Given the undeniable historical significance of these recordings, being released for the first time on this CD, we hope that listeners will understand and appreciate our motivations for making them available. Moreover, we're confident that fans will relish the opportunity to immerse themselves in the sextet's vibrant ensemble dynamics and the propulsive rhythm section, alongside the exceptional solos delivered by the remarkable jazz musicians captured in these performances.