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Old Apr 20, 2012, 10:22 PM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is offline
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Jazz Feature for April 23:"This is Walt Dickerson!"

As the month of April moves along, The Jazz Show continues with debut recordings by various artists. This time it's the recorded debut of one of the most original vibists in Jazz history. Walter Roland Dickerson recorded this date in March of 1961 at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio for Prestige/New Jazz and it's appropriately called "This Is Walt Dickerson!" Great vibes players are a rare breed. Originally we had Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo then Milt Jackson modernized the Hampton concept and became the pioneer Modern Jazz vibist. We must also include the late Teddy Charles and the still living Terry Gibbs here as well but Jackson is the dominant figure. From Jackson came Bobby Hutcherson who modernized Jackson's concept into the 60's and 70's and beyond. Gary Burton with his dry approach (no vibrato motor) and his astounding four-mallet technique created his own style. Hutcherson and Burton begat, Stefon Harris, Joe Locke, Mark Sherman and my personal favourite of the new crop........Warren Wolf. This list leaves out many fine players of course but lists are only a brief peak at the major exponents of that instrument. One person that seems to be always left out of this picture is our Jazz Feature artist, Walt Dickerson.

Walt Dickerson was born in Philadelphia on April 16, 1931 and died of cardiac arrest in May of 2008. Walt Dickerson's approach to the vibes owes nothing to blues tonality or Milt Jackson yet his music is warm and swinging. He had technique in abundance and great speed and his melodic lines are dense and complex leading some people to refer to Walt as "the Coltrane of the vibes". He gets a unique ringing sound on the instrument and he achieved this by removing the felt on the mallets. Although mostly based on the East Coast, he moved to California for a time and worked arround the L.A. area with his quartet. He moved to New York in 1960 and through Eric Dolphy's recommendation he was signed to Prestige/New Jazz and recorded this amazing debut album with his quartet in March of 1961. He subsequently made three more great albums for that label before moving on. All the recordings in this period were greeted warmly by the critics. Although Dickerson's style didn't influence as many people as say, Milt Jackson, Walt always impressed listeners and fellow musicians with his virtuosity and individuality. He wrote wonderful compositions as well and this album features six of his intriguing originals. His working band includes mostly unknown players like Austin Crowe on piano and Bob Lewis on bass and the debut of a young drummer who would rise from obscurity to become one of the most important drummers in Modern Jazz.........Andrew Cyrille. This album has to be one of the most impressive debuts and it's too bad that Walt Dickerson has not been given his rightful due.

On a personal note: I remember hearing one of the tracks from this recording on Wes Bowen's late night Jazz show from KSL in Salt Lake City and fell in love with the tune that Walt called "Death And Taxes". A few weeks later I was in San Francisco and found this album and I've treasured it ever since. I'm sure that you will find Walt's music challenging yet accessible and filled with odd twists and turns of creativity.

"This Is Walt Dickerson" will be heard shortly after 11pm as The Jazz Feature but drop by right at 9pm and catch the whole show. See you then..............
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Old Apr 21, 2012, 12:07 PM
Allan Johnston Allan Johnston is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
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Hey Gavin,

I recently hipped myself to Walt Dickerson by running into his stuff on emusic.com. Your listeners who download music (legitimately, of course), can find his music there very reasonably priced - mainly since his tracks are very long, so you get a song-per-side album for the price of two songs. The albums I found were "Tell Us Only Beautiful Things" and "To My Queen". Beautiful stuff.

Al
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