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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Dizzy Gillespie & Stan Getz
VERVE 549 749-2 Crotchet  

  1. It Don’t Mean a Thing
  2. I Let a Song go Out of My Heart
  3. Exactly Like You
  4. It’s the Talk of the Town
  5. Impromptu
  6. One Alone
  7. Girl of My Dreams
  8. Siboney (Parts 1&2)

Dizzy Gillespie – Trumpet
Stan Getz – Tenor sax
Oscar Petersen – Piano
Ray Brown – Bass
Herb Ellis – Guitar
Max Roach – Drums

In 1953 Dizzy Gillespie was at the height of his musical powers, acknowledged as being one of the founders of Bebop with Charlie Parker and ready to take on anybody in a battle of jazz improvisation. He had ideas to spare and a technique that enabled him to play them as he thought of them.

Stan Getz had come to fame with the Woody Herman Four Brothers Band, where his solo on Early Autumn remains a jazz legend. At the time of this recording, he was ten years younger that Diz, just 26 years of age. I doubt whether Diz had played with him before.

There was therefore quite an element of competition on this session, which was organised by Norman Granz of JATP fame. It proved to be a meeting of jazz giants in which there is no clear winner, the playing of both men is of the highest calibre and the music they produced is what jazz is all about. Every track whether fast, very fast or slow, swings along well and both Stan and Diz produce the kind of solos we know they are capable of, full of inspiration and invention.

Oscar Petersen says of the session "Diz was going to eat someone that day and I was determined that it was not going to be me" The Oscar Peterson Quartet was probably the only rhythm section around at the time, that could have provided what was needed. In Oscar’s case of course there is always his own solos, I can’t get enough of them, and to me he is the finest jazz piano player ever.

It Don’t mean a Thing is taken at 100 miles an hour, Max Roach handles this very fast tempo brilliantly and Diz and Stan are both on top form. I Let Song features both men and again, it is difficult to say who comes out on top, both are excellent. Exactly Like You has some excellent interplay between the horns as well as more admirable solo work. It’s the Talk, has Dizzy going straight into the improvisation and Stan demonstrating what an excellent ballad player he is.

Impromptu kicks off with a number of driving choruses from Oscar, once again the tempo is fast and furious. Stan and Diz then demonstrate another facet of they’re playing, handling the up-tempo blues in brilliant style.

One Alone is from another session a year later and it really has no place in the album, Dizzy is the only musician in common with the rest of the music.

Neither Girl of My Dreams or Siboney are the most obvious vehicles for jazz, but in the hands of Stan and Diz they sound like they might have been written for the purpose?

This is an excellent album and I am delighted that VERVE have seen fit to make it available again, it is a jazz classic.

Don Mather

Don Mather is a saxophone player and Bandleader in Coventry


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