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The Big Band

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Album Review

This two-CD set compiles two unrelated big band recordings by Dizzy Gillespie, probably both made in Europe. In slight of the sloppy packaging by the budget label LRC, including comical misspellings of several musicians' names, there is a lot of great music present. The 1968 concert features an exciting mix of music both old and new. After thrilling the audience in the opener, "Things to Come," Gillespie features baritone saxophonists Cecil Payne and Sahib Shibab in "Ray's Idea," trumpeters Dizzy Reece and Victor Paz along with trombonist Ted Kelly in "Manteca" (which detours into the calypso "St. Thomas," made famous by Sonny Rollins), then showcases flugelhornist Jimmy Owens in his own ballad "Milan Is Love." The lovely ballad, "Something in Your Smile," by the late Tadd Dameron, is a vocal feature for the leader. James Moody's warm flute is showcased with only the rhythm section in an unusual arrangement of "Old Folks" (which is mislabeled as "Yesterdays"). Dizzy's lighthearted introductions are only interrupted when he has to silence a noisy member of the audience. The 1962 concert, whose location is also not identified, also features Gillespie in top form. The band has an interesting makeup, with three trumpets (in addition to Gillespie), three trombones, three French horns and only one reed player (Leo Wright, who doubles on flute and alto sax), plus pianist Lalo Schifrin anchoring the rhythm section. Following an extended workout for the leader in the opening "A Night in Tunisia," there are also long workouts of Gillespie's older tunes like "Emanon" and more recent fare such as "Kush," the latter featuring his delicious muted trumpet being answered first by Schifrin then the full band. Sadly, there are no spoken introductions so it is difficult to identify many of the soloists, though Wright's alto sax is the centerpiece of Schifrin's ballad "This Is the Way." This set is well worth the investment, in spite of the lack of proofreading and research by LRC.


Born: 21 October 1917 in Cheraw, SC

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz were huge. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time (some would say the best), Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ended up copying Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis' emergence in the 1970s that Dizzy's style was successfully recreated. Somehow, Gillespie could make any "wrong" note fit, and harmonically he was ahead of everyone in the 1940s, including Charlie Parker. Unlike Bird, Dizzy was...
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