Along with a great Albert Mangelsdorff disc this month (here), Jazz Haus has issued a sublime Diz CD that takes songs from two live gigs in Germany in 1961. Accompanied by four biggies in their own right (Leo Wright on flute and alto, Lalo Schifrin on piano, Bob Cunningham on bass, and Mel Lewis on drums), the concerts and the tour were more a meeting of the minds than an ensemble as such, though Schifrin was quick to point out: "I've had many mentors in my life, but only one master—Dizzy", and the giant's trumpet playing and wide open approach clearly show why. Like the Mangelsdorff crew, Gillespie had an affection for all kinds of music, though he especially dug South American styles, Afro-Cuban in particular.
As was the case with the thinking and practice of most of the geniuses in jazz, everyone is given plenty of room to strut their stuff, not just the chieftain, and so we get, among other bonuses, a really good look at why Schifrin, later to devote himself to a great deal of soundtrack work, was acclaimed well before he arrived at cinema's doorstep. His solo spot in the opening The Mooche is a great angular choppy wonderland of near-avant-garde licks that, even when they fold back into the melody, still take the tune places it hasn't been before he got to it. The guy shines throughout this CD, so it's humorous that, at the time, Lalo was greatly concerned that he wasn't up to snuff and that Gillespie would pass him by…but…again…Gillespie was a god among mortals and knew precisely where the talent lay.
Four of the cuts here are long workouts while the remaining three construct themselves in 4-minute format, squeezing the 45-RPM oriented mode for all its worth. Gillespie adopts the bop approach he was famed for but with his own trademarks, rarely harking back too fully to the era when he was coming up (the 40s and 50s), always grabbing that time by the collar, pulling it through the door into a new day. This showed especially in the relative smoothness of his approach; even while blowing the bell off his trumpet, the man retained a velvety feel that marked his vocabulary distinctly. You get plenty of that here.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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