When Detroiter David Usher and Dizzy Gillespie founded the Dee Gee record label, they might have had an inkling that their project could, and would, fail financially due to poor distribution, the conversion from 78s to LPs, and the heavy hammer of the taxman. They might have felt, but could not have imagined, that they would create some of the most essential and pivotal jazz recordings for all time, not to mention some of the last great sides of the pioneering bebop era. Gillespie's large ensembles brought to public attention the fledgling young alto and tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, such Detroiters as guitarist Kenny Burrell or pianist/vibraphonist Milt Jackson, and vocalists Joe Carroll, Freddy Strong and Melvin Moore. Considering the years – 1951 and 1952 – this was revolutionary breakthrough music from a technical and entertainment aspect, delightful music that has stood the test of time and displays the trumpeter in his prime as a bandleader.
Trombonist Matthew Gee was primarily a section player and a valuable sideman, but as this CD reissue shows, he could have been a significant soloist too. The two sessions (Gee's only two as a leader) feature him in an unusual quintet with altoist Ernie Henry (the trombone-alto blend has a unique sound) and at the head of a septet also including trumpeter Kenny Dorham, tenorman Frank Foster, and baritonist Cecil Payne. The music is quite bop-oriented and mixes together standards with three swinging Gee originals. An underrated and generally overlooked gem by a forgotten trombonist.
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. The music seldom reaches ignition point on this undistinguished 1965 session. Co-leader Johnny Griffin has many more valuable items in his discography. While not as well-known as Griffin, the same can be said of trombonist Matthew Gee, whose resumé includes work with Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington and whose style straddles swing and bop (this was actually one of only two dates where Gee recorded as a leader).
One of the highest tributes to any musician in a recording session is that he or she is a “Take One” artist. Donna Hightower is just that, a singer who delivers perfectly the first time she steps to the mike. In these late Fifties sides she demonstrated the phrasing, taste and skill which marked her as one the brightest new vocalist stars of the time. Backing her are two all-star groups conducted by Sid Feller and featuring some of the greatest soloists of the New York jazz scene, including Joe Wilder, Ben Webster, Hank Jones, Georgie Auld, Mundell Lowe, George Duvivier and Don Lamond.