The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band in Concert
Following the intermission and the "surprise presentation of a birthday cake for Slide, he, Pacquito, Jimmy Heath, James Moody (on flute), John Lee, and Duke Lee took solos on Dizzy's composition, "Montaku, in a terrific angement by Gil Ford. Then, the vocalist sensation, Roberta Gamborini came on with the Hoagy Carmichael standard, "Stardust, arranged by Slide Hampton. I first heard Gamborini with a small group at the Jazz Standard in New York City a few years ago. Even then (she had just come over from Italy), she obviously had star potential. Gamborini has perfect pitch, the voice of an operatic coloratura soprano, and an absolute understanding of jazz interpretation. She sings "scat miles above Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, even to the point of doing perfect renditions of Dizzy's solo transcriptions. She has such a lovely, modest way about her that I'm afraid her brilliance may have been missed by the audience. Ms. Gamborini is simply a jazz phenomenon. She then did "Moody's Groove, composed and arranged by Jimmy Heath, with a sax solo by Moody and an eloquent trombone solo by Steve Davis in the style of Curtis Fuller. Moody and Gamborini did some marvelous "trading fours" scatting on Dizzy's "Blues 'n Boogie, which was followed by Moody's hilarious singing on "Moody's Mood for Love. The set concluded with Heath's "Without You, No Me: To Dizzy, with the entire trumpet section once again paying tribute to Diz. Then there were encores. I don't even know what time the gig ended! Considering there are a couple of guys in the band over eighty years old, it's a wonder the paramedics weren't called in!
So, what can a serious-minded reviewer like me say about all of this? Like, hey, it was a celebration! Go for the gusto, man, but then let's go to a small club and hear each of these guys do their fine artistry in a more intimate setting.
PERSONNEL: Slide Hampton, trombone and Musical Director; James Moody, tenor saxophone, flute, and vocals; Jimmy Heath, tenor sax; Frank Wess, alto saxophone and flute; Gary Smulyan, baritone sax; Antonio Hart, alto saxophone and flute; Diego Urcola, Claudio Roditi, Greg Gisbert, Frank Greene, trumpets; Steve Davis, Jason Jackson, Jay Ashby, trombones; Jeff Nelson, bass trombone; Monty Alexander, piano; John Lee, bass and Executive Director; Dennis Mackrel, drums; Duke Lee, percussion; Roberta Gambarini, vocals. Guest artist: Paquito D'Rivera