Dave Douglas: Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie At Zero Gravity

Dan McClenaghan By

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Dave Douglas: Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie At Zero Gravity
The distinctive trumpet of Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993), with the idiosyncratic upward angle of its bell, is transformed into a starship on the cover of Dave Douglas' Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie in Zero Gravity, seemingly soaring above the stratosphere, in Earth orbit. Douglas has a history of nodding to past greats: pianist Mary Lou Williams on Soul On Soul (Sony Legacy, 2000), saxophonist Wayne Shorter on Stargazer (Arabesque, 1997), and on a pair of Riverside discs that explored the music of Jimmy Giuffre and Carla Bley. But Douglas sways hard away from the direction of imitation on his nods to past greats, going more for a modernization and re-interpretation of the chosen musical visions.

Dizzy Atmosphere presents nine tunes to celebrate Gillespie, featuring a septet with a two "Dave" trumpet front line—Douglas and Dave Adewumi—and a four piece rhythm section, with the ubiquitous Joey Baron in the drum chair.

Like Douglas' previous tributes, this one attempts an immersion and modernization of the subject's legacy. It begins with "Mondrian," a nod to Dutch artist and jazz fan Piet Mondrian, coming to life with a stentorian two-trumpet celebration blasting into the twenty-first century, the horns giving way to pianist Fabian Almazan's spiked, shimmery, stinging chords, followed by soaring trumpets then Carmen Rothwell's eloquent, reigning-in-the-madness bass solo. "Con Almazan"—a Douglas original nodding to Gillespie's "Con Alma"—has the feel of a soundtrack to that orbiting trumpet-starship on the cover, drifting initially, then gelling into a hint at the familiar melody, with a segment of trumpet interplay that seems as if it's trying to break out of orbit and move toward the moon. It is a wonderfully skewed take on the tune, with guitarist Matt Stevens sending out a searing solo meant to, perhaps, leave the solar system to travel into interstellar space, with pianist Almazan bursting into a sea-of-starshine sparkle.

Seven of the nine tunes presented here are Douglas originals, along with Gillespie's "Manteca" and "Picking the Cabbage." "Manteca" exudes a Latin magic, with drummer Baron and bassist Rothwell laying down a foundation that is locked into a skewed Afro-Cuban groove, while "Pickin' The Cabbage" puts the life-affirming Gillespie-esque sense of joy and humor into focus.

This wonderfully-conceived and executed album closes out with "We Pray," from the pen of Douglas. It joins "Subterfuge" as the set's ballad tunes—introspective and beautiful straight-ahead jazz.

Track Listing

Mondrian; Con Almazan, Cadillac; See Me Now; Manteca; Pickin' the Cabbage; Pacific; Subterfuge; We Pray.


Dave Douglas: trumpet; David Adewumi: trumpet; Matthew Stevens: guitar; Fabian Almazan: piano; Carmen Rothwell: bass, acoustic; Joey Baron: drums.

Album information

Title: Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie At Zero Gravity | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Greenleaf Music

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