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Gifted with one of the most amiable stage presences in the business Dizzy could work a crowd into a frenzy not only with the fireworks from his horn, but also with his glib vocal antics. Both are on sizable display during this concert taped at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Playing the audience with the same virtuosic skill he applies to his brass Dizzy’s in control for the get go. Fortunately he’s chosen a solid cadre of players to back him up on this opening stop on his faux campaign trail. With Barron helming the rhythm section and Moody as chief foil in the front line the group kicks off to a break neck start on a truncated opening reading of “Dizzy Atmosphere.” The group pounces on later numbers like “The Cup Bearers” and the sprawling “No More Blues” with a similar resolve to swing hard.
The Civil Rights movement was at the forefront of many folks’ minds in 63’ and references to the issues of racial equality understandably crop up in the music. During these moments Dizzy’s mirthful colloquies both with his band and the audience are often as entertaining as the music while still remaining respectful to the cause. Such is the case on the preface to “Morning of the Carnival” taken from Jobim’s “Black Orpheus.” Moody emphatically insists on emphasis of the word “Black” telling Dizzy that Malcom X gave them the green light to use it. Dizzy counters with “Everything must be cool if Malcom say so baby!”
As Dizzy himself intones to the enraptured crowd, every presidential campaign needs an anthem. The closer is a loose, boisterous jam based on the Gillespie classic ‘Salt Peanuts” with the persuasive slogan ‘Vote Dizzy’ inserted in place of the usual chorus phrase. Jon Hendricks, on loan from the eccentric vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, guests on the tune turning it into a free-for-all, tongue-in-cheek scat fest. Moody blows a blustery solo atop the galloping rhythm section, before Dizzy blazes through one of his own, sprightly skating across Collins’ crashing traps.
When compared musically to the numerous milestones of Gillespie’s extraordinary career this disc rates a minor footnote. Overall the performance is more fascinating as a capsule of the time in which it was recorded than as an unforgettable musical document. Even so, it’s a rollicking good time from start to finish and is well worth checking out.
Dizzy Atmosphere/ Morning of the Carnival/ The Cup Bearers. I
Personnel: Dizzy Gillespie- trumpet; James Moody- tenor & alto saxophones, flute; Kenny Barron- piano, Chris White- bass; Rudy Collins- drums. On
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.