The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band is a renowned entity with several fine recordings on various labels. Releases by the group are always greeted with a certain anticipation. Listeners who have been looking for that one big band recording this year need look no furtherDizzy's Business is here, and it's larger than life.
Trombonist Slide Hampton has taken over the director's reins and provided several of the excellent arrangements. The repertoire of the band begins with Gillespie's big band charts from the '40s and '50s. On Dizzy's Business Hampton, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath, drummer Dennis Mackrel and composer Ernie Wilkins arrange from Gillespie's original charts, all adding a bright shimmer to the already luminescent notes.
The show kicks off with Ernie Wilkin's "Dizzy's Business. The head is serpentine and precise, providing brash support for trumpeter Randy Brecker, who plays in the period vernacular, and alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, wailing from down deep. The Gillespie favorite "Con Alma follows, showcasing Hampton's beautifully round trombone tone and James Moody's sleek tenor. "Blue N' Boogie introduces vocalist Roberta Gambarini (who sings a sweet "Stardust later) in a scat contest with James Moody. Special guest Roy Hargrove demonstrates his blues chops, as does trombonist Jason Jackson.
Thelonious Monk is well represented with a pair of Dennis Mackrel arrangements. "I Mean You romps with solos by Mulgrew Miller, trombonist Steve Davis and bassist John Lee. "Off Minor treats us to bigger-than-life Monk and Gary Smulyan's baritone saxophone, as well as Greg Gisbert's trumpet and Mulgrew Miller's keys. Dizzy's Business is beautifully conceived and executed, and it should appear on several end-of-the-year lists.
Track Listing: Dizzy's Business; Con Alma; Blue 'N' Boogie; I Mean You; Without You--No Me (To Dizzy); Hot House; Stardust; Tour de Force; Moody's Groove; Morning of the Carnival; Off Minor.
Personnel: James Moody: tenor saxophone, flute, vocals; Jimmy Heath: tenor saxophone; Frank Wess and Antonio Hart: alto saxophone, flute; Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone; Frank Greene: lead trumpet; Roy Hargrove, Greg Gisbert and Randy Brecker: trumpet; Claudio Roditi: trumpet and percussion; Jason Jackson: lead trombone; Steve Davis: trombone; Jay Ashby: trombone, percussion; Douglas Purviance: bass trombone; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Marty Ashby: guitars; John Lee: bass/executive director; Dennis Mackrel: drums; Roberta Gambarini: vocals.
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.