“Good Bait” – written by American jazz pianist/composer Tadd Dameron and bandleader Count Basie – was first preformed in the 194o’s.
Opinions differ as to when “Good Bait” was first performed. The earliest live performance recording of the jazz composition is by Basie’s band in 1948 at the Royal Roost. Dameron recording the song with his own group the same year, featuring Fats Navarro on trumpet. The following year, the Miles Davis/Tadd Dameron Quintet recorded “Good Bait” in Paris.
Starting out as a pianist in Ohio, Dameron began writing and arranging music by the age of 21. Besides composing for Basie’s band, Dameron wrote for Jimmie Lunceford, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie.
Dameron incorporated bop’s long phrases, strong upbeat rhythms and chord changes – pioneered by Gillespie and Parker – into big band arrangements for Gillespie. “Good Bait” was one of Dameron’s first compositions for Gillespie, who is credited with introducing the song on record in 1945.
In the book Enjoying Jazz, author Alyn Shipton describes the different approaches used by Basie’s and Gillespie’s groups on “Good Bait:”
“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.”
This jazz standard has also been covered by John Coltrane, Tommy Flanagan, Steve Grossman, Joe Pass, Robert Trowers and Nina Simone.
Tune in to First Take with Chavis and Lando – weekdays from 6-9 am MST – for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long!
Photo credit: jazzgiants.net; Information from: jazzstandards.com