Roy's tone was a pile-driver; epic, a mover of mountains. It vibrated at the highest energies. Just listen to what I think is the ripest performance in the history of swing:
Roy may have used mutes earlier, but in the 1950's, he started using them a lot and it almost reduces his sound to the level of a common mute user. Not quite. He still exudes some power; has some growl, but that only makes it harder to understand-his style doesn't really change with the adoption of the mute. He's still a power player. Roy: why did you begrudge us hearing that beautiful sound full out!!
|The muted Roy|
Dizzy also began using a mute-at least recording with one-in the 1950's. It makes more sense with Diz. Yes, he had a powerful and beautifully idiosyncratic sound, but he also drew from a wider palette of influences than Roy. He was a slyer player and, of course, there was the Latin influence. Here's Diz playing his composition Con Alma on open horn:
You can hear how he bends notes, dances between phrases and shapes his rhythmic patterns in unusual ways. Also, how he varies the loudness and softness of the solo. It seems very reasonable for him to undertake similar tunes with a harmon mute. Here's a beautiful duet with bass player Chris White:
Now, here are Diz and Roy, side by muted side, in their great 1954 collaboration:
|Rare shot of Freddie w. mute|
If they wanted a change in sound, it seems like the choice of some great players after 1960 was not to use mutes, but to double on fluegelhorn. See: Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Art Farmer, Chet Baker and Woody Shaw. I have a vaguely curmudgeonly take on the fluegelhorn, but we can take that up another time.
I haven't talked much about the cup mute, which was played at one time another by all the swing era players and some boppers (especially Navarro). I will close this session with some cup work by one of our greatest players-Charlie Shavers. A man with a powerhouse delivery and tone, Charlie also shaped individual tones, used a lot of smears, slides and shakes. To me, he adapts his style perfectly to the cup mute and his obligatos behind Billie are sublime.