Dial Records was one of the many small, specialty record labels that popped up after World War II. Unlike some of the others, Dial was focused almost exclusively on jazz. Owner Ross Russell was an ersatz novelist, reporter and music journalist. He served in the Merchant Marine during the war, and while stranded in the Arctic after being torpedoed by a German u-boat, kept a journal that was eventually published by Life magazine. He subsequently settled in Los Angeles, opened a record store, and began recording some of young beboppers who had just started infiltrating the post-war jazz scene in southern California. He signed saxophonist Charlie Parker, who recorded a series of now-essential sessions for Russell while he was living in LA in the 1946-47 period. Parker had acquired a heroin habit years earlier, but it became particularly debilitating when he moved to LA, eventually landing him in Camarillo State Hospital for an extended medical incarceration. Bird recorded quite a few sides for Dial, but just before the mental and physical breakdown that precipitated his hospitalization, Russell infamously recorded him performing “Lover Man.” In spite of Parker’s borderline coherence and obvious inability to play at anything like his usual level of brilliance, Russell released the recording, much to the chagrin of Bird, and much to the detriment of Russell’s later reputation among musicians and critics. Years later, after leaving the record business, Russell further sullied his own reputation by writing an “authorized” biography of Bird which contained all manner of fabrication, exaggeration and out-and-out fantasy. A happier moment for both Russell and Parker, pictured at left, was the recording memorialized on these shirts. “A Night in Tunisia,” written by former Bird collaborator Dizzy Gillespie, is perhaps the best-known of all the Dial recordings, and features Bird along with his protege, a young Miles Davis. The record contains the “famous alto break,” a short, blazing improvised cadenza by Bird that still stands as a challenge to anyone attempting a life in jazz.