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Reviewers: Don Mather, Marc Bridle, Ian Lace, Peter Woolf, Gerald Fenech

JAZZ LEGENDS - Dizzy Gillespie

  1. Emanon
  2. Lover come back to me
  3. Round Midnight
  4. Manteca
  5. Without you - No me
  6. A Night in Tunisia
  7. The Champ

BBC Music BBC J 7002-2 [70.30]
 Amazon UK  around £11.50

No one would doubt Dizzy Gillespie's credentials as a 'jazz legend', he was the originator of the be-bop school of trumpet playing. His compositions still feature strongly in the repertoire of most Jazz orchestras and for that matter, small groups.

When this recording was made by the BBC in 1987, 'Diz' was 70 years old and the concert was one of a series undertaken to celebrate the event, he did however, continue to tour with various bands until his death in 1993.

Dizzy was just as important to the creation of be-bop, as his partner Alto saxist Charlie Parker; they appeared to feed from the inventiveness of each other. The majority of his time, was spent playing in small groups and appearing as a guest artist at the world's major jazz festivals. The Big band was important to him and he really created the Be-bop Big band that we know today, right back in 1947. He was a relaxed and natural Musical Director, who led his band from the front and by example, he could always get the best from his sidemen. In Dizzy's Band there was always a young trumpet player, he called them his disciples, in this band it was John Faddis, in the later United Nation's Orchestra, it was Cuban Arturo Sandoval. The Saxes on the record include Sam Rivers who worked with Miles Davies in the 60's and Lead Alto Jerry Dodgion who had played with the Basie Band and in the Benny Goodman Orchestra. The trombones included the vastly experienced Britt Woodman who had played for some time in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Much of what is played here, has it's roots in Dizzy's earlier bands, but it all sounds fresh and little has happened since 1987 in the Big Band world that has more excitement about it. It is not the kind of record to play while the family have tea, it is music for those who like this style to relax and listen to.

The programme commences with Emanon a Gillespie original and Pianist James Williams is the first soloist followed by Gillespie, tenor man Ralph Moore and John Faddis on Trumpet. It gets things off to a great start. Lover come back to me is an unusual version of this old tune and a feature for Diz. Round Midnight is a tune composed by Thelonius Monk, who was once fired by Gillespie from his first band for his eccentric behaviour. Manteca is another Gillespie composition with lots of soloists featured. Without you - no me, is supposed to be based on something Gillespie said to Louis Armstrong, whether the story is correct or not, it's based on truth!

A Gillespie concert without his own Night in Tunisia, would not be right and the Champ has a similar vintage.

According to author Alyn Shipman, a biographer of Gillespie, in a book called "Groovin' High", this was the only recording made of this edition of the band. Thank goodness for the BBC!


Don Mather

Don Mather is a Saxophone Player and Bandleader based in Coventry


Don Mather

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