Dave Burns: 1962 Sessions

The underrated trumpeter's 1962 Vanguard album is reissued with contemporaneous tracks from bands led by Al Grey and Billy Mitchell


One of the most underrated trumpeters in jazz, Dave Burns was active in the orchestras of Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie in the 1940s and early 1950s. In 1955 he left music to work as a salesman in electrical appliances. He returned to music in 1960 and made an impressive contribution to drummer Art Taylor’s Blue Note album A. T.’s Delight.

This new release reissues his only album as a leader for Vanguard (Dave Burns, Vanguard VRS 9111) and adds additional tracks made in the same year, 1962, with bands led by Al Grey and Billy Mitchell.

The Vanguard album begins with CB Blues, almost 10 minutes of sturdy blues with the leader playing in his usual, forthright manner. Burns had a unique style on trumpet that was both brassy and mellow at the same time. His lines were always warm and inventive with the outward sound of early bop trumpet, the result most likely of playing in Dizzy’s orchestra.

This quintet featured strong piano from the 21-year-old Kenny Barron, tenor sax with a foggy sound from Herbie Morgan, former Coltrane bassist Steve Davis and Edgar Bateman on drums. Davis cues in Tali with an arco bass solo that is notable for its rich sound and clean articulation. Burns is heard on this disc on muted trumpet, where his blues-based sound is particularly effective. On Imagination he proves to be a master of the slow, romantic ballad.

Four tracks recorded under the leadership of Billy Mitchell find his tenor, Burns’ trumpet and a very young Bobby Hutcherson on vibes all on great form. Whoever dug these tracks out from obscurity did jazz a great service.

C.B Blues; Tali; Something Easy; Secret Love; Straight Ahead; Imagination; Rhodesian Rhapsody; Three-Fourth Blues; R.B.Q.; You Turned The Tables On Me; Automation; Tamra; Siam (73.12)
Collectively: Dave Burns (t); Herbie Morgan, Billy Mitchell (ts); Al Grey (tb); Floyd Morris, Kenny Barron (p); Bobby Hutcherson (vib); Herman Wright, Steve Davis (b); Edgar Bateman, Eddie Williams, Otis Finch (d). NYC, June 1962 and Chicago, February and October 1962.
Fresh Sound FSR 1113