Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band: Things to Come

C. Michael Bailey By

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The Phoenix...out of the ashes of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band.

The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band has been an active entity since 1998. Steered by Jon Faddis and John Lee, the band consists of musicians who played with John Birks Gillespie sometime during his 50 years of music making. Also under the Faddis tutelage is the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars, a smaller band than the big band that has been recording since1997. This band has released two recordings on Shanachie Records, The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars— Dizzy's 80th Birthday Party and Dizzy's World . These two recordings merit a bit of attention in themselves before considering the newly released big band recording because to the extremely high quality of the music and musicianship.

The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars - Dizzy's 80th Birthday Party : (Shanachie 5040, 1997)

The inaugural disc by the Alumni All-Stars sports a young and precocious septet. The disc is heavy with Dizzy's Afro-Cubano vision as characterized by the inclusion of "Fiesta Mojo," "Night in Tunisia," "Con Alma," "and "Manteca." Trumpeter Jon Faddis emerges as the centerpiece and musical director for the band. His high-register playing comes closest to that of Gillespie's. Faddis showcases include "Dizzy Atmosphere" and "BeBop," both performed at a breakneck pace.

The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars - Dizzy's World : (Shanachie 5060, 1999)

Dizzy's World is a decidedly close look at Gillespie's Afro-Latin world. In these compositions, Gillespie queried the cultures of Brazil, Central America, Cuba, and the Caribbean. This collection includes three or the five movements from Lalo Schifrin's "Gillespiana Suite." "Desfinado" and "Black Orpheus" represent Jobim and Brazilian Bossa Nova. The Chano Pozo classic "Tin Tin Deo" is Cuban salsa. Dizzy's World is more tightly focused than Dizzy's 80th Birthday Party and its theme is a timely one.

Things to Come continues the trend of a tight focus, this time, on Dizzy's big band affiliations. The arrangements of the music performed were based of Gillespie's own charts for his famous 1945 Be Bop big band. The recital includes some of the most famous Be Bop and Hard Bop anthems: Benny Golson's "Stablemates," Whisper Not," and "I Remember Clifford." Monk's "'Round Midnight" is given an aggressive treatment as is "Manteca" and "Night In Tunisia." Dizzy's 1946-1950 big band introduced four compositions covered here, the jaunty "Things to Come, " the thoughtful "Emanon," the bluesy "Ray's Idea," and "Manteca." All of the performances are tight as a drum and readily reveal Gillespie's genius in guiding a big band through the coral reefs of Be Bop. Faddis is in perfect upper register form. Antonio Hart and Frank Wess turn in excellent performances on alto saxophone (listen to "'Round Midnight" and if you did not know that it was Frank Wess, you would think it was Johnny Hodges tooting the alto). There can never be too much Dizzy Gillespie.

While being a formal band for the past four years, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band has yet to record until now. Things to Come was recorded live at the Manchester Craftsman's Guild in Pittsburgh, PA in September 2000. The remote recording is sunglasses bright as are Dizzy's original arrangements and Faddis' band direction. Vigorously recommended for all big band fans and fans of John Birks Gillespie.

Track Listing: Stablemates; Jessica's Day; Things To Come; "Round Midnight; Manteca; Lover Come Back To Me; Emanon; Whisper Not; I Remember Clifford; Ray's Idea; A Night In Tunisia. (Total Time: 70:19).

Personnel: John Faddis, Earl Gardner; Terell Stafford; Claudio Roditi-- Trumpet; Slide Hampton; Jay Ashby; David Gibson; Douglas Purviance-- Trombone; John Lee-- Bass; Dennis Mackrel-- Drums; James Moody, Jimmy Heath-- Tenor Saxophone; Frank Wess, Antonio Hart-- Alto Saxophone; Gary Smulyan-- Baritone Saxophone; Duke- Percussion; Marty Ashby-- Guitar; Renee Rosnes.

Title: Things to Come | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: MCG Jazz

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