Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dootsie's Picks

Bassist Curtis Counce enjoying the early morning sun in the summer of 1955. He was a frequent participant in many important West Coast recording sessions, including those he did with his own bands for Contemporary and Dootone. William Claxton photo

Maybe you know the recordings that were issued on the Dootone (or Dooto) Record label in Los Angeles during the 1950s? If you do, you probably know that much of the label's material featured comedians like Redd Foxx or second-tier doo-wop groups hoping for that pie-in-the-sky release that might chart and bring them a few months of fame. Groups like the Whippoorwills or the Medallions. One of Dootone's vocal quartets did eventually hit pay dirt. The Penguins scored a No. 1 hit with "Earth Angel."

But Dootone also recorded a few sides by some very fine jazz players. Chief among those was Dexter Gordon, who produced an excellent album for Dootone in 1955. The legendary jazz pianist Carl Perkins issued what would be his only LP as a leader on Dootone in 1956. Then there were the albums by the artists featured in this Gems posting.

Both Curtis Counce and Buddy Collette recorded for Dootone in 1958, releasing, respectively, "Exploring the Future" and "Buddy's Best." These albums featured the leaders fronting formidable hard bop quintets, including the stellar pianist Elmo Hope and tenor player Harold Land in Counce's band, and a rare appearance by trumpeter and future big band leader Gerald Wilson with Collette. Though the records were quite good, they didn't sell well and Dootone soon abandoned jazz for the more lucrative market of bawdy comedy. 

I've had all the Dootone jazz LPs, including the two by Buddy and Curtis, in my collection for many years. What I didn't know was that label owner Dootsie Williams sold his jazz material sometime in the late 1950s to another company, an outfit in Culver City named Bel Canto Records, and that Bel Canto had released additional material from the Counce and Collette dates. I only discovered this was so when I came upon the album offered here in a pile of yard sale cast-offs this past summer. The cover caught my eye, and I'm glad it did.

Dootsie Williams, label owner
and record producer, in 1956.
What we have here are more excellent performances by both bands. The Counce quintet features drummer Frank Butler on "Move" and gives Elmo Hope the lead on a trio selection – presumably written by the pianist – called "Head Gear." Collette uses "Bass Rock" as a feature for bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks and does some nice soloing along with Gerald Wilson on the other selections. 

For some reason, Bel Canto packaged this LP in a box. Why they went to the extra expense is beyond me, having to use cardboard inserts to fill out the additional space left by the single LP. They also pressed the album in deep blue vinyl, a nice touch visually, but of no practical benefit to the music. 

So here are some very rare sides by two West Coast stalwarts. The Counce side had some bothersome surface noise, but Gems has pretty much removed it. The rest of the LP had no noise issues, so you should be good to go. These files were generated right from the six-decades old vinyl, jazz fans. So enjoy!

Jazz on the Bounce
Buddy Collette/Curtis Counce
Bel Canto SR 1004
Curtis Counce, b; Harold Land, ts; Rolf Ericson, tp; Elmo Hope, p; Frank Butler, d.
Los Angeles, CA; April 1958

1. Move
2. Chasing the Bird
3. Head Gear (Hope?)

Buddy Collette, fl, cl, ts; Gerald Wilson, tp; Al Viola, g; Wilfred Middlebrook, b; Earl Palmer, d.
Los Angeles, CA; 1957

4. The Monster
5. Soft Touch
6. Bass Rock

Find it here:


  1. Thank you very much. I have the two lps by Counce and Collette and obviously unaware of this extra material not published in them. A real gem.

  2. Thanks David.Always a gem found on gemsofjazz.I don't have the albums but will be looking for them.Cheers!

    1. Glad there's stuff of interest here for you, Doug. I found those Dootone Records years ago in a Chicago record store that was cleaning out its warehouse, prior to closing down. They had some stellar jazz sides, and those two were among them. I wonder if Bel Canto also got some Dexter Gordon outtakes when they acquired Dootsie Williams' material? That would be a real find!

  3. Thank you, David for these additional takes from these fine albums. As always, you come through with a great gem. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and I look forward to finding some more gems here at your outstanding blog. Thank you!

    1. Glad you enjoyed them, JC. My T-giving was a pleasant family affair (as such holidays usually are), thanks. Hope yours was equally delightful. More stuff is coming -- sorry for the slow submission rate these days. There are just too many other projects I have to deal with lately!