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Good Bait (1944)

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Origin and Chart Information
No doubt Dameron brought the tune with him when he joined the Basie band, and Basie is usually credited as co-composer.

- Sandra Burlingame

Rank 277
Written by Count Basie
Tadd Dameron

Tadd Dameron began his musical career in Cleveland, Ohio, as a pianist, but by the time he was 21 he had begun writing and arranging. He wrote for the Jimmie Lunceford and Count Basie bands and for Sarah Vaughan. From his essay on the web entitled Jazzed in Cleveland, Joe Mosbrook says, “In 1942, Trummy Young, a trombonist Dameron had known on the Lunceford band, introduced Tadd to Dizzy Gillespie.” He quotes Dameron as saying, “‘That happened after I came from Kansas City where I first met Charlie Parker. I was at a jam session at Minton’s and I started to play some unusual chords and Dizzy said, Well, that’s it, man!’

“Arranging for Gillespie’s big band, Dameron took the long phrases, powerful upbeat rhythms and chord changes of bop, that Dizzy and Charlie Parker were pioneering, and used them in big band arrangements. Among his early compositions for Gillespie was ‘Good Bait.’”


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Opinions as to when “Good Bait” was first performed differ. In his book Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s, Ira Gitler quotes Trummy Young as saying that Dameron had written “Good Bait” in the 1930s before he left Ohio. No doubt Dameron brought the tune with him when he joined the Basie band, and Basie is usually credited as co-composer. The earliest recording of “Good Bait” by the Count’s band is from a live performance at the Royal Roost in 1948, the same year that Dameron’s own group with Fats Navarro on trumpet recorded the tune. The Miles Davis/Tadd Dameron Quintet recorded it in Paris in 1949.


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However, Gillespie is credited with introducing “Good Bait” on record in 1945 (currently available on the compilation CD of Gillespie’s work from 1945). In an online article, Trummy Young: Tain’t What You Do, author Chris Wiley says, “In 1945, Trummy took part in a recording session that included Gillespie. The tunes recorded were ‘Good Bait’ and ‘I Can’t Get Started.’ Trummy was apparently part of the reason ‘Good Bait’ was included; he knew of composer Tadd Dameron as an arranger for Jimmie Lunceford’s band and alerted Dizzy to his work.” In Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie, Donald L. Maggin lists the additional personnel on this date as Don Byas, Clyde Hart, Oscar Pettiford, and Shelly Manne and credits Dameron for the composition. Kenny Mathieson confirms this information in his book Giant Steps: Bebop and the Creators of Modern Jazz, 1945-1965 and names the independent record label as Manor out of Newark, New Jersey, managed by Irving Berman. Gillespie’s compositions “Salt Peanuts” and “Be-bop” were also recorded during the session.

In his book Enjoying Jazz Alyn Shipton describes the differences in style between the Basie and Gillespie bands: “The Basie band’s rendition of ‘Good Bait’ was in the ‘30s style, and ...only the presence of soloists like trombonist J. J. Johnson hinted at the bebop potential in the composition. Gillespie’s band, by contrast, added layers of complexity to Dameron’s writing, through the way the charts were interpreted. His December 1947 recording of ‘Good Bait’ adds Latin rhythms over Dameron’s four-square beat; the beat is anticipated in the brass section’s punctuations to the theme, and these are picked up by the drummer, Joe Harris, who also drops in off-center accents to complement Gillespie’s solo over the ensemble.”

Singer/pianist Nina Simone recorded “Good Bait” as an instrumental on her 1957 debut album, John Coltrane recorded it the following year, and vibraphonists Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson used it as title cuts for albums. It has also been recorded by the nonet Dameronia, formed in 1982 by Philly Joe Jones and Don Sickler to honor the music of Tadd Dameron; by trumpeter Clifford Brown; saxophonists Gerry Mulligan and Jim Pepper; pianists Tommy Flanagan and Andy LaVerne; guitarists Joe Pass and John Pisano; and drummer Max Roach. Recent recordings include those by UK trumpeter Bruce Adams (2000) and saxophonist Joe Lovano (2003).

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Alyn Shipton
Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie
Oxford University Press, USA

(This book contains one paragraph on early recordings of the tune.)

- Sandra Burlingame

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