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Dizzy Gillespie was not only a great trumpet soloist — he was also a skillful bandleader/arranger, and his bands (which ranged from small groups to larger ensembles) were an excellent training ground for a long list of musicians. One of them was pianist Mike Longo, who was in Gillespie's employ from 1966-1973 and went on to become a skillful bandleader himself. All of Longo's talents — bandleader, arranger, pianist, composer — are very much in evidence on Oasis, which reunites him with the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble. This big-band date, which was recorded in 2004, often recalls Gillespie's work with larger ensembles. Gillespie, of course, was a major proponent of bop-oriented big bands — he realized that even though bebop and hard bop were dominated by small groups, there was also a place for big bands in a bop setting. And that Gillespie influence asserts itself on Longo's own material as well as his arrangements of several well-known standards, including "Alone Together," "Lazy Afternoon," and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)." Gillespie isn't Longo's only influence as a bandleader/arranger — he's also well aware of Oliver Nelson and Thad Jones — but Gillespie is certainly a prominent influence. Most of the tracks on this CD are instrumental, although Hilary Gardner (a pleasant, if derivative, vocalist) is featured on three tracks: Matt Dennis' "The Night We Called It a Day," George Gershwin's "Love Walked In," and Longo's thoughtful, Duke Ellington-inspired "Song of My Dream (For Duke)." Oasis never pretends to be groundbreaking — certainly not by 2004 standards — but it's an enjoyable, noteworthy effort that die-hard bop enthusiasts will appreciate.
Wow! If you want some "in your face swinging jazz" get this as soon as you can! I have been playing it all day! One of those CDs you will play over and over again. I have it in my car now and play it almost everywhere I go. "No More Blues" will have you jumping out of your chair. What a joyous experience! I owe a debt of gratitude to these marvelous musicians who have given me a valuable gift here. Can't wait for their next one.