“David Pell  (born February 26, 1925) is an American jazz saxophonist and bandleader born in New York City.Pell first played in his teens with the big bands of Tony Pastor, Bob Astor, and Bobby Sherwood, and then moved to California in the middle of the 1940s. There he played on Bob Crosby’s radio show in 1946, and was a member of Les Brown’s band from 1947 to 1955.


In 1953 he began working with his own ensembles, mostly as an octet; among the players were Pepper Adams, Benny Carter, Mel Lewis, Red Mitchell, Marty Paich, and Art Pepper. These ensembles recorded in the 1950s for Atlantic, Kapp, Coral, Capitol, and RCA Victor; alongside this, he played as a sideman for Shorty Rogers, Pete Rugolo, Benny Goodman, and Gene Krupa.He also produced records in the 1950s and 1960s for Tops, Uni and Liberty; among his credits in production were some singles by Gary Lewis & the Playboys.


 In 1961, Pell switched to alto sax and clarinet for I Remember John Kirby, a tribute album to bassist/bandleader Kirby who led a successful small group in the 1930s and '40s

In the 1970s he assembled the group Prez Conference, a Lester Young tribute ensemble. In the 1980s he returned to the octet format….” *


The West Coast sound can be traced back to the “Birth of the Cool” nonet which briefly blossomed in 1949 in New York. Gerry Mulligan was key in that group & central to the sound of the West Coast Aesthetic. It is dangerous to fall into the trap of pigeonholing the Jazz that was being made in California as one style. Ted Gioia and Robert Gordon have made good cases for the variety of music being performed there between 1945 and 1960 and it clearly was not a mono culture. That being said the style of music that the contemporary journalists wrote enthusiastically about, both for and against, can be summed up thus ;


Modern Jazz played by Medium sized ensembles with a balance of written and improvised material ,often contrapuntal and influenced by chamber music.


This was claimed to differ from East Coast style which was highly improvised by comparison. Charlie Parker’s tunes could safely be described as 32 bar written Be-Bop solos which he then built on over many choruses of blowing.


The Dave Pell Octet fits into the former rather than the latter style mentioned above. He employed musicians who could read and play sensitively in ensemble mode but also improvise. He sort the skills of arrangers who took their point of departure from the Miles Davis Nonet of 1949 and experimented with texture colour and form. Marty Paich wrote the majority of the octet’s pad and his own Dektette was one trumpet up on the Nonet Gil Evans and Miles Davis convened in ‘49 ,retaining the french Horn and Tuba that gave the nonet a distinctive sound.


To Be Continued with an analysis of 


"jazz goes to Siwash" a tune by Bill Hollman which appears on Mel Lewis sextet album of 1957

and Pell of a Time of the same year.






*from Wikipedia