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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.
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.