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Night In Tunisia: The Very Best of Dizzy Gillespie (Remastered)

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Album Review

Many arguments can be made as to which cuts constitute the "very best" of Dizzy Gillespie. These 14 cuts can certainly be argued for in making a solid case for the great trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. These tracks, all of which were cut for RCA between February of 1946 and July of 1949, still sound vital and progressive in the 21st century. The set kicks off with the title tune, featuring Diz with Don Byas, Milt Jackson, Al Haig, Ray Brown, J.C. Heard, and Bill DeArango. Clocking in at just over three minutes, the advanced harmonics and rhythmic invention is still startling. Thelonious Monk's "52nd Street Theme" and the Charlie Parker/Diz "Anthropology" are also included from this session. Check out DeArango's guitar solo on this last cut; it's blazing yet fluid and deeply bluesy. There are many big-band sides on this platter as well. There are three from an August 1947 session that feature James Moody, Cecil Payne, John Lewis, Jackson, Brown, and one, "Stay on It," arranged by Tadd Dameron, the cut's composer. "Two Bass Hit" is another excellent selection from this session. The big band changed a bit in December of 1947 when Al McKibbon, Chano Pozo, and Kenny Clarke entered the ranks — check the cut "Algo Bueno (Woody 'n You)" for the new rhythmic intensity this band displayed. From the same session listeners also get "Oop-Pop-A-Da," with Kenny Hagood and Diz sharing scat vocals to add not only something humorous but also innovative to the mix (the pair appear on another tune from a later session — eight days later to be exact — entitled "Ool-Ya-Koo"). "Cubana Bop" — with killer chanting from Pozo — and "Cubana Be" (both arranged by George Russell) are also included. "Guarachi Guaro," a Diz tune with Gerald Wilson arranging (Sabú Martínez plays congas with Joe Harris, Ernie Henry appears on alto, and Budd Johnson plays tenor), comes from December of 1948. The final tune is a bona fide jazz classic updated for the bop era. Lester Young's "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid" was recorded in July of 1949 and features Yusef Lateef, Charles Greenlea, Al Gibson, and conguero Vince Guerra. So while it can be argued to the death about what the very best of Dizzy Gillespie actually is, there is no debate concerning the sheer excellence of these tracks and how they represented a small but important slice of Gillespie's development as both a student of and innovator in jazz. The Legacy issue also gets high marks for fine sound throughout.


Born: October 21, 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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