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Wardell Gray: Vol. 1 1944-46

This is the first of a projected complete series of possibly 15 (!) CDs from France, where intelligence and thoroughness are generally applied to reissues. The set begins with 13 performances by the Earl Hines band of 1944-46, five of them broadcasts, most of the rest from ARA sessions in Hollywood. These last had poor distribution here on 78s, but are far better known in Europe via LP releases. Two of the better tracks are unfortunately not included in this instance, because Gray didn’t solo on them, but “Blue Keys” and “Let’s Get Started” give a good idea of the band’s considerable capabilities. The trumpet solo on the former, incidentally, is by Billy Douglas, not Willie Cook, and a number of other identifications needchecking.

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