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Documenting the endearing relationship that Dizzy Gillespie had with Cuban music and the Cuban people, A Night in Havana explores both his concert performance and the social interactions that he encountered there. Gillespie was 71. Arturo Sandoval and Gonzalo Rubalcaba were very young at the time, but jazz made them instant partners.
Gillespie enjoyed meeting people from all over the world, and he enjoyed performing with them and for them. In the documentary, he tells a Havana audience an amusing version of how his trumpet got bent. He discusses where the strength comes from for his music and how he feels about his puffed cheeks.
The documentary includes concert performances of "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You, "Night in Tunisia and "Manteca as well as partial performances of classic tunes such as "Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac, "Con Alma" and "Blues."
Gillespie's band for this 1988 concert performance includes Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabyyr on clarinet and baritone saxophone, Walter Davis, Jr. on piano, John G. Lee on bass, Big Black on congas, and Nasyr Abdul Al-Khabyyr at the drums.
In between, Gillespie discusses the origins of bebop, the passion of the blues, the African drum influence on jazz, and the common social surroundings that he and his audience share. A Night in Havana ranks among the best there is for fruitful information as well as for its incredible music.
Program notes: Directed by John Holland; 86 minutes. Special features: filmmaker biography; filmmaker statement; theatrical trailer.