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Metronome All Stars 1948

Leif Bo Petersen

From January 1939 to January 1957 Metronome magazine published an annual musician popularity poll. Polling was conducted among its readers, closing in December of the year before publication. This poll was called Metronome All Stars, and in some years it was followed up by a recording date involving the winners. The recording activity stopped entirely in 1956, but there had been intermittent pauses in recording: 1943–45, 1948, 1952, and 1954–55.

The participants in the January 1949 recording of the 1948 Metronome All Stars band were as follows: in the reed section were Buddy DeFranco (#2), clarinet; Charlie Parker (#1), alto saxophone, and Charlie Ventura (#1), tenor saxophone. Baritone saxophonist Ernie Caceres (#6) participated instead of Serge Chaloff (#1). On trumpets were Dizzy Gillespie (#1), Miles Davis (#3), and Fats Navarro (#4), while Howard McGhee (#2) did not participate. Kai Winding (#2) and J. J. Johnson (#3) were trombonists, without Bill Harris (#1). The rhythm section consisted of Billy Bauer (#1), guitar; Eddie Safranski (#1), bass; Shelly Manne (#1), drums. On piano, Lennie Tristano (#2) was chosen instead of Nat King Cole (#1). Pete Rugolo (#1) served as arranger. [1]

The plan was to issue a 10-inch and a 12-inch 78 rpm record of two recorded tunes. [2] The royalties from sales were scheduled to go the Unemployment Fund of American Federation of Musicians Local 802 and other charities.

Recording Session

George Simon of Metronome was present in the recording studio, and this description relies on his article published in the March 1949 issue. [3]

Metronome All Stars

Buddy DeFranco (cl), Charlie Parker as), Charlie Ventura (ts), Ernie Caceres (bar), Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro (t), J. J. Johnson, Kai Winding (tb), Billy Bauer (g), Lennie Tristano (p), Eddie Safranski (b), Shelly Manne (d), Pete Rugolo, Lennie Tristano (arr)

Studio 2, Victor Studios, New York, NY.
January 3, 1949, 7:30 p.m.–1:00 a.m.
Commercial recordings for RCA Victor.
George Simon and Barry Ulanov (Metronome producers).
Charlie Grean, Steve Sholes (RCA Victor producers).
Lou Layton (engineer).

D9-VB0021-1Overtime — master take (3:05)(P. Rugolo arr, comp. “Love Me or Leave Me” chord changes)
D9-VC1000-2Overtime — master take (4:30)
D9-VB0022-1Victory Ball — master take (2:38)(L. Tristano arr, comp. “’S Wonderful” chord changes)
D9-VB0022-2Victory Ball — alternative take (2:36)
D9-VC1001-3Victory Ball — master take (4:10)

It is a guess that the recordings were done in this order, because not all musicians participated in the short version of “Victory Ball.”

Navarro, Davis, Johnson, and Caceres are out on the short version of “Victory Ball”.

Only Parker and the rhythm section participate in the theme statements on “Victory Ball”. Parker improvises the B part in the opening theme chorus, while DeFranco improvises in the B part of the closing theme except on the master take of the short version, where Parker has taken over.

Discographies and information in connection to released records give differing matrix and take details. The above uses the numbers given in the The Jazz Discography, even if there is doubt that the take numbers are correct. [4] According to George Simon, many takes were made of each selection, so it does not seem plausible that the master takes of the short versions of “Overtime” and “Victory Ball” should be takes number one.

Record Releases

These are the most important early releases. Tracks other than from the Metronome All Stars 1948 are not listed.

1949, February [5] RCA Victor 20-3361.
10-inch 78 rpm record.
20-3361-BD9-VB0022-1Victory Ball

1953, October [6] Crazy and Cool, RCA Victor LPT 3046.
10-inch 33 rpm LP. Compilation. (The same tracks were issued on a double set of 45 rpm EPs: Crazy and Cool, EPBT 3046).
LPT 3046 Side 1D9-VB0021-1Overtime
LPT 3046 Side 2D9-VB0022-1Victory Ball

Many discographies incorrectly list the long versions on the above record. Auditioning reveals that both tracks are the short versions. The error was probably caused by Simon’s liner notes, which describe the long versions as being on this record. The EP issue includes the same liner notes by Simon. The author has not auditioned the EP, but it is assumed that it similarly includes the short versions.

1958, June [7] The Metronome All-Star Bands, 580602 RCA Camden CAL-426.
12-inch 33 rpm LP. Compilation.
CAL-426 Side 2D9-VB0021-1Overtime
D9-VB0022-1Victory Ball
D9-VC1001-3Victory Ball

1958, June [8] Great Jazz Reeds, RCA Camden CAL 339
12-inch 33 rpm LP. Compilation.
CAL 339 Side 2D9-VB0022-2Victory Ball

The above record has not been auditioned by the author, but The Jazz Discography lists the alternative take of “Victory Ball” here. [9]

1965, July [10] The Be-bop Era, RCA Victor LPV-519.
12-inch 33 rpm LP. Compilation.
LPT-519 Side 2D9-VC1001-3Victory Ball

1988The Metronome All-Star Bands, Bluebird 7636-1-RB.
12-inch 33 rpm LP. Compilation.
D9-VB0022-1Victory Ball
D9-VC1001-3Victory Ball

1994, July [11] Charlie Parker, Bird’s Eyes, Last Unissued — vol. 14, Philology W 844.2.
CD. Compilation.
Philology W 844.2D9-VB0022-2Victory Ball

1995Dizzy Gillespie: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings. Bluebird 07863 66528 2.
CD 2-disc set. Compilation.
07863 66528 2 disc 2D9-VB0021-1Overtime
D9-VB0022-1Victory Ball
D9-VC1001-3Victory Ball

Release History

RCA Victor advertisement

Metronome, March 1949, p.11.

A February 1949 Metronome article states that “Two versions of each (untitled as of yet) were cut, regular 10-inch sides for jukebox consumption, and 12-inch vinylite discs packaged in an illustrated envelope for collectors.” [12]

In his review article in Metronome in March, George Simon reported that, “Victor’s remodeled Studio 2 was dressed up for the occasion by a huge sign and special music stands supplied by Syd Davis of the Velore Company.” The article was illustrated with photos by Zinn Arthur who probably was also hired to make photos for the special edition of the records. [13]

The 10-inch versions were released late in February, but the 12-inch version was never released. Simon’s liner notes to the 1954 LP compilation, Crazy and Cool, states that it includes the long versions of the two tunes, [14] but, as noted in the Down Beat review, this was not true; it is the short versions we find here. [15] The long versions surfaced first time on the 1958 LP The Metronome All-Star Bands.

On a 1958 LP compilation, Great Jazz Reeds, an alternative take of the short version of “Victory Ball” was unexpectedly included, but other alternative takes have not surfaced.

It is a mystery as to why the special 12-inch edition of the material was abandoned. A guess is that some of the participating musicians had exclusive contracts with other companies and therefore would not be permitted to have solo exposition on these records. For example, the Savoy record company claimed still to have Navarro on such a contract. [16] However, there may be other reasons which are unknown at this time.


George Simon, who was present at the recording session tells In his Metronome review article that the sessions went into overtime with a duration of five and a half hours. [17] In the liner notes to the 1958 LP, The Metronome All-Star Bands, Simon expands this information, stating:

The session ran five and a half hours, instead of the usual three, and all along we’d attributed that to the intricacies of the arrangements. But just recently one of the musicians confided that this one musician had purposedly fluffed and fooled around so that he’d be able to gather all that overtime pay. All that confusion, it now turns out, was manufactured. [18]

Simon later revealed to Dan Morgenstern that it was Miles Davis who was the cause of the overtime. [19]

Dizzy Gillespie commented on this aspect of the session in an interview with Art Taylor conducted in Stockholm on August 31, 1970:

The white boys sometimes didn’t make it, and they would take it over again, One number they went about the fifth take. I walked over to Barry Ulanov and said: “Next time is the last time I’m making this,” He sort of laughed it off. They played again, and it wasn’t right. By that time I was packing up my horn, and I left. [20]

In his Miles Davis biography, Jack Chambers writes:

“Overtime” is reputedly so named because Parker pretended that he was unable to master the arrangement, causing numerous false starts that eventually put the session two and a half hour over the three-hour time limit imposed by the union and dramatically increasing the musician’s cheques by the new way of pay scale won by the recording ban of the American Federation of Musicians. [21]

In Miles Davis’s autobiography, the overtime aspect is described in the following way:

Bird was funny at that session. He kept having to do extra takes because he said he didn’t understand the shit. The new recording contract had a three-hour limit set by the union, all over was overtime. So Bird with his extra takes and shit stretched the session about three hours over the limit, and everybody made more money. They later named a tune “Overtime” because of what Bird did. [22]

Chambers gives no sources for his version of the story. It is probably based on Simon’s accounts, with added conjectures by Chambers concerning the AFM and Charlie Parker. The remarks about AFM are nonsense. The three-hour limit had nothing to do with the recording ban, and it is possible that Chambers placed Parker in the role of saboteur because of the well-known photos of rehearsals with Parker and the Tristano rhythm group.

Miles Davis’s version looks like a fabrication by Troupe based on Chambers. It is my guess that Davis told the story of overtime payment to Simon because he did not want to admit that he had musical troubles with the “Overtime” arrangement.

Gillespie’s account points in another direction, a white musician, but his story focuses on the final part of the session. It is logical that they were recording the short version of “Victory Ball” here as this only involved a part of the musicians. Miles Davis was out here.


In the Metronome article and in the liner notes to Crazy and Cool and The Metronome All-Star Bands, Simon gives the following details of the soloists on the records:

Simon does not specify the soloists on the short versions, but he mentions that it is Kai Winding who solos on the short versions. [23]

In the booklet to the CD Dizzy Gillespie: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings, Ira Gitler disputes Simon’s order of trombonist soloists in the long version of “Overtime” and “Victory Ball”. Gitler has the order, Winding — Johnson, in the trombone solos. We agree with this in our Navarro book.

In the trumpet chase choruses of “Overtime” he gives the order Davis — Navarro — Gillespie for the first chorus. In his opinion the order is changed in the second chorus to Gillespie — Navarro — Davis. We likewise advocate for a change in the order of trumpet soloist here.

Gitler gives the following soloists for the short versions:

Also worth to notice is that Parker solos in the B part of the opening theme of “Victory Ball”, while DeFranco solos in the B part of the closing theme on the long version and also on the alternative take of the short version. Parker has this solo on the master take of the short version.

When the short takes originally were released, the Down Beat reviewer Tom Herrick stated that the trumpet solo on the short version of “Overtime” was by Navarro. [25] I think it was based on the opening of the A part of the solo, which has a dramatic upward movement on a G minor chord, starting in quarter notes and ending on a high G (all transcriptions are notated in B♭ instrument key).

Gillespie solo. “Overtime” short version. A section, measures 1–3.

This kind of gesture can be found in many of Navarro’s solos, but it is also a gesture typical for Gillespie. We find such a kind of gesture in his muted solo on the master take of “Victory Ball”, here on a E♭ chord.

Victory Ball musical example

Gillespie solo. “Victory Ball” short version master take. A section, measures 1–3.

In our Navarro book we concluded that the solos on the short versions of “Victory Ball” were by Navarro. [26] Tommaso Urbano’s convincing analysis concludes that both the solo on the long version as well as the solos on the short versions are played by same musician: Gillespie. [27]

In his Cadence review of the Gillespie Bluebird CD set, Scott Yanow rejected the theory of order change in the chase choruses and gave the order Davis — Navarro — Gillespie. [28] This is also the conclusion of Tomasso Urbano after a thorough analysis of these. [29]

Tommaso’s musical examples convincingly places Gillespie as the third soloist in the chases throughout the two choruses. He thereby overturns the theory of change of order, but his musical arguments for placing Davis as the first and Navarro as the second soloist are much weaker. His most important point here is the lick played in measures 5–8 in the second chorus. He finds such a lick played earlier and later by Davis in solos, but he is neglecting that this kind of lick has its origin in the Minton days and is heard on record first time by Joe Guy. It also occurs in Gillespie’s solos, [30] and it is found in Navarro’s composition “Fat Boy.” [31]

Further: If Urbano is correct about the Davis — Navarro — Gillespie order, then we have Davis in measures 25–27 of the first chorus. Tommaso does not comment on this part. What is played here could be a Gillespie gesture, but it is also typical of Navarro. The same gesture is found opening his solo on Eckstine’s 1945 AFRS Jubilee recording of “Love Me or Leave Me.” [32]

Overtime musical example

“Overtime” chase. First chorus measures 25–27.

Love Me or Leave Me musical example

Navarro solo. “Love Me or Leave Me” measures 1–3. Billy Eckstine Orchestra AFRS Jubilee no. 122 (02-26-1945).

I cannot recall having heard Davis use such a gesture in his solos. Rejecting a change of order during the chase, I therefore conclude an order of Navarro — Davis — Gillespie.

Leaving out the theory of an order change, there are three differing conceptions of the solo order in these choruses:

In 1949 Simon commented these chase choruses so: “It’s a torrid battle and should give you a pretty fine idea of the differences(?) in the three guys’ style.” The question mark is Simon’s. [33]

In the interview with Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie stated:

...when I won the Downbeat [sic] poll. It was Miles, Fats [Navarro] and myself. I didn’t know which one was playing, I didn’t know the difference between the three of us. [...] Both Miles and Fats at that time were so influenced by my playing that all of us were playing almost the same thing. [34]

He repeated this in his 1979 autobiography: “I know each of them [Navarro and Davis] sounded like me because we played on a record together, the three of us, and I didn’t know which one was playing when I listened to — the Metronome All Star date.” [35]

Chambers does not discuss the solo order. In his Milestones, he writes:

With so many soloists working within the confines of these 78 rpm recordings, the musical interest of this session is predictably limited… Perhaps the main interest of this music comes from the trumpet section, which brings together all three leaders of the younger generation of trumpet players for the only time. In their consecutive choruses on “Overtime”, Gillespie, Navarro, and Davis all plays similar passages on open horns.... [36]

He here also refers to Gillespie’s statements.

In the Davis autobiography is found the following:

It was a bullshit record except for what me and Fats and Dizzy played. They were limiting everybody because there were so many soloists, and these were 78 rpm recordings. But the shit that the trumpet section played was a motherfucker. Me and Fats decided to follow Dizzy’s lead and play the shit he was playing instead of playing our own styles. It was so close to what Dizzy played, he didn’t even hardly know when he left off and when we started.... [37]

Here again, the statements seem to be fabrications by Troupe. It is remarkable to see the degree to which they rely on Gillespie and Chambers, leaving this testimony worthless as a primary source.


The main purpose of this article has been to gather all available information on the 1948 Metronome All Stars recording session and its release history. A main topic is the analysis of the trumpet soloist sequence in the long version of “Overtime”. There are three different conclusions: George Simon’s, based on his presence at the session, and Tomasso Urbano’s and my own, both based on musical analysis. In terms of future research, it would be interesting to see the results of an artificial intelligence analysis of these chase sequences. Such an analysis technique was used in our Fats Navarro book, but we have lost contact with the person who made the analyses.

Also worthy of further investigation is the matter of any surviving unissued recordings. According to Simon, many takes of each tune were made at the recording session. It would interesting to determine through research in the RCA/Victor archives (now held by Sony Music) whether additional alternative takes have survived. Perhaps these archives might also reveal the definite reasons for the abandoning of the planned 12-inch releases.



[1] “Modernists Cop Top Poll Slots,” Metronome 65, no. 1 (January 1949): 24–34.

[2] George Simon, “Your Dream Date Comes True: Metronome All Stars Wax Great Sides!,” Metronome 65, no. 3 (March 1949): 13–15.

[3] Ibid. See also Peter Losin’s discographical entry at Miles Ahead.

[4] Tom Lord, The Jazz Discography Online, (Chilliwack, BC: Lord Music Reference, Inc., 2020)

[5] Point and Counterpoint, Metronome 65, no. 2 (February 1949): 6–7.

[6] RCA Victor ad in Billboard, October 17, 1953, 35. Lists RCA Victor LPT 3046, EPBT 3046.

[7] New Releases: Low-Priced LP Albums, Billboard, June 2, 1958, Audition 6. Lists Camden CAL 426.

[8] RCA Camden ad in Billboard, June 30, 1958, 19. Lists RCA Camden CAL 339.

[9] Tom Lord, The Jazz Discography Online.

[10] New Album Releases: RCA Victor, Billboard, July 31, 1965, 34. Lists RCA Victor LPV-519.

[11] R.E.D. Compact Disc Catalogue 16th ed. (London: Retail Entertainment Data Publishing Limited, 1996): 513. Lists Philology W 844.2 with release date.

[12] Point and Counterpoint: 6–7.

[13] Simon, “Your Dream Date Comes True,”: 13–15.

[14] George Simon, Liner notes to Crazy and Cool, RCA Victor LPT 3046 (1953).

[15] Nat Hentoff. “Jazz Reviews,” Down Beat 20, no. 24 (December 2, 1953): 14.

[16] Leif Bo Petersen and Theo Rehak, The Music and Life of Theodore “Fats” Navarro, (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009): 239.

[17] George Simon, “Your Dream Date Comes True,”: 13.

[18] George Simon, Liner notes to The Metronome All-Star Bands, Camden CAL-426 (1958).

[19] Dan Morgenstern, email communication to author, June 27, 2006.

[20] Art Taylor, Notes and Tones (Liege, Belgium: A. R. Taylor, 1977): 136–137.

[21] Jack Chambers, Milestones I: The Music and Times of Miles Davis to 1960 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983): 108–109.

[22] Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989): 124–25.

[23] Simon, Liner notes to The Metronome All-Star Bands.

[24] Ira Gitler, Liner notes to Dizzy Gillespie: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings. Bluebird 07863 66528 2 (1995).

[25] Tom Herrick, “Diggin’ the Discs With Tom: Combo Jazz.” Down Beat 16, no. 6 (April 8, 1949): 14.

[26] Petersen and Rehak, The Music and Life of Theodore “Fats” Navarro: 245–49.

[27] Tomasso Urbano, The Music of Miles Davis,

[28] Scott Yanow. “Reissues,” Cadence 21, no. 8 (August 1995): 32–33.

[29] Urbano, The Music of Miles Davis.

[30] Mario Schneeberger, “The Man Who Invented the Be-bop Virtuoso Break with False Fingerings.” Jazz Documentation (1993/2017); Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989): 404; Thomas Owens, Bebop: The Music and Its Players (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995): 102–03.

[31] “Fat Boy” was originally issued as by The Be Bop Boys on Savoy 901 (78 rpm). It can also be heard on the 1999 Savoy Jazz CD 92861-2 Fats Navarro: Goin’ to Minton’s.

[32] AFRS Jubilee show no. 122, originally a transcription disc, has been reissued on the LP Spotlite 100, Billy Eckstine: Together (1972), and under the same title on the 1994 Somethin’ Else CD TOCJ-5568.

[33] Simon, “Your Dream Date Comes True,”: 13.

[34] Taylor, Notes and Tones: 136–137. Gillespie has misremembered the name of the magazine that sponsored the poll.

[35] Dizzy Gillespie and Al Fraser, To Be, or Bop: Memoirs (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979): 487.

[36] Chambers, Milestones I: 108–109.

[37] Davis and Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography: 125.

Author Information: 
Leif Bo Petersen was born in 1942 in Copenhagen, Denmark and received his candidate degree in 1974 from the University of Copenhagen in Social Sciences and History. He started playing trumpet at the age of 13 and became interested in jazz music and its history. He has since played trumpet on an amateur basis. In the late 1990s he began serious research on bebop history and joined efforts with American Theo Rehak in writing The Music and Life of Theodore “Fats” Navarro: Infatuation (Studies in Jazz 59, Scarecrow Press, 2009).

The article collects details of the recordings made by the 1948 Metronome All Stars and their subsequent commercial releases. Attention is paid to the soloists, where there is debate as to correct identification.

Metronome All Stars, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, jazz

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