1. My Heart Belongs to Daddy
2. My Man
4. St Louis Blues
5. Woody’n You
6. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
7. There is No Greater Love
8. I Found a Million-Dollar Baby (in the Five and Ten Cent Store)
9. Squatty Roo
11. There is No Greater Love
12. There is No Greater Love
13. There is No Greater Love
14. I Found a Million-Dollar Baby (in the Five and Ten Cent Store)
Dizzy Gillespie – Trumpet
Les Spann – Guitar, flute
Junior Mance – Piano
Sam Jones – Bass
Lex Humphries – Drums
Francisco “Chino” Pozo – Congas (track 5)
Johnny Hodges – Alto sax (track 9)
This is one of two albums which were recorded in February 1959. I think this one was released first and then came The Ebullient Mr Gillespie.
Dizzy Gillespie led a quintet which he had formed the previous year and which had therefore been together long enough to have polished up its routines.
Dizzy is quoted in the sleeve-notes as saying “We’d been playing these tunes for a while in clubs. None of them were learned just for a record date. And so
there was none of the tension involved with new material”.
The leisurely but organised and enthusiastic style is evident in such tracks as My Heart Belongs to Daddy, which opens with a Latin-American riff
that provides the song with a new, exotic feeling. Dizzy is his usual ebullient self but here and on most other tracks he uses a mute, which makes his
playing more moderate than usual. This is a good thing, as he had previously tended to overdo the stratospheric, ear-piercing notes, only a few of which
can still be heard on this album.
Gillespie is backed by a sympathetic rhythm section which seems to be enjoying itself as much as Dizzy. Junior Mance is well-known for the bluesy element
in his playing. This gives body to his mainly right-handed solos. Sam Jones is a steady, solid bassist who ensures that the beat is firm and swinging. Lex
Humphries is an exciting drummer who really puts himself into every tune, thrusting the rhythm along.
starts rhapsodically, with a counter-melody supplied by Junior Mance, followed by a lyrical theme statement by Diz. All this sounds very poetic but then,
by contrast, the group settles into an easy bounce. There are some helpfully rhythmic guitar chords behind Dizzy’s solo, supplied by a musician I haven’t
yet mentioned: Les Spann. He is a criminally-underrated guitarist as well as flautist, and I always find his playing cool, subtle and rhythmic. It is sad
that he was recorded on disc far too infrequently. His flute solo in Moonglow is a delight, displaying both technique and melodic feeling.
St Louis Blues
, like the first track, sets up an underlying beat – with handclaps and the drummer’s mallets – which displaces the beat and again brings a new aspect to a
familiar tune. The band moves effortlessly into a fast 4/4, brilliantly accented by Les Spann’s guitar comping behind Dizzy’s solo. Spann contributes a
fine guitar solo, pushed along by Lex Humphries’ urgent drums.
Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
and There is No Greater Love show the gentler side of Gillespie, who still manages to play flurries of notes faster than a speeding fox. Les
Spann’s solo on the former tune impresses through economy and melody. A nice surprise arises in the form of altoist Johnny Hodges, who was apparently
passing the studio when Gillespie invited him to join in. They play a Hodges composition – Squatty Roo. Unfortunately my copy of the CD played
tricks with this track, and I couldn’t savour one of my favourite saxists.
The four bonus tracks (tracks 11 to 14) on this CD offer three alternate takes of There is No Greater Love and one of I Found a Million-Dollar Baby. I suspect these were rejected because of poor intonation from the trumpet, or slight flaws from trumpet or guitar,
but they are respectable performances.
This group exemplifies perfectly the word “togetherness”, as they unite in skillful, rhythmically sophisticated playing. I believe that this is one of the
best albums that Dizzy ever recorded.