Dan Grissom With Buddy Harper’s Band – Jewel Records – 1948 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Two by Dan Grissom tonight – Can’t Sleep and Like A Ship At Sea, featuring Grissom with Buddy Harper’s Orchestra, recorded for Jewel Records in 1948.
Singer and sax player, best known for his association with Jimmie Lunceford. Dan Grissom also played with Duke Ellington. After leaving Lunceford in 1943 he recorded for several small West Coast labels.
Dan Grissom is best-known as a vocalist with the Jimmie Lunceford band, but also sang with Duke Ellington for a half-dozen years and released an occasional single under his own name on labels such as Imperial. Much more impressive from the discographical perspective would be his Lunceford tenure, but a sensitive Grissom might want to hide behind this imposing tower of sides in order to dodge the bad reactions he gets from jazz listeners whose historic quests through the genre inevitably lead them to Lunceford. “Dan Gruesome” was a nickname the vocalist wound up with at the hands jazz purists who disliked vocal material even during the Lunceford heyday, while later critics may have been a trifle more tactful, if no less critical. A typical serving of such commentary includes these sorts of observations: “. . .one can do without the occasional Dan Grissom vocals. . .including some dreary vocal features for Dan Grissom. . .the dated vocals of Dan Grissom.”
Actually, Grissom represented a new type of jazz vocalist who came about more because of technological innovations than progressive musical thinking. Around 1933, microphones came into use, allowing singers such as Grissom or the Claude Hopkins frontman Orlando Robeson to carry on over the sound of a full band; neither man had the lungs to belt out lyrics over the top of the band the way pre-microphone “blues shouters” did. There was nothing loud about Grissom’s singing style, described in a survey of Ellington vocalists as displaying “pinched-tones and heavy vibrato.” Actually, he wasn’t the only big-band singer in the Grissom lineage. His uncle Jimmy Grissom also sang with Lunceford, and was just about as busy on records as his nephew, with somewhat less negative critical feedback.
Here are two sides Grissom recorded with the Buddy Harper band for Jewel Records in 1948. Grissom died in Los Angeles in 1963.
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