February 18, 2011

Vintage Dizzy

Jazz Icons: Dizzy Gillespie Live in '58 and '70Dizzy Gillespie: Live in '58 & '70 (2006), part of the Jazz Icons series of DVDs, presents another gem with these two concerts of Dizzy Gillespie. In the earlier date from Belgium, Gillespie is in a small group setting - a fantastic quintet with Sonny Stitt on sax, Lou Levy on piano, Ray Brown on bass, and Gus Johnson on drums. The hip repertoire includes “Blues After Dark” (penned by Benny Golson), “Blues Walk” (Clifford Brown’s ultra-cool favorite), and the standard “Cocktails for Two.” Gillespie is his ebullient self throughout, but it is Stitt who gets the chance to shine, blowing some powerful solos on tenor. He is featured on a wonderful torchy version of “Lover Man.” Dizzy and Sonny belt out a comical vocal on “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”

The 1970 date is from Denmark, where we see Dizzy fronting the Francy Boland/Kenny Clarke Big Band. In addition to Boland on piano and Clarke on drums, the group included, among others, Billie Mitchell and Ronnie Scott on tenor sax; Art Farmer and Idrees Sulieman on trumpet; Jimmy Woode on bass; and Sahib Shihab on baritone. The band may be big, but they produce a wonderfully tight sound on some complex blues and bop arrangements. Gillespie is at ease blowing on all. A couple of Gillespie originals are featured, his Afro-Cuban influenced “Con Alma” and “Manteca.” A special highlight is a smoky, noirish version of Jimmy Woode’s “Now Hear My Meanin’.”

Throughout, the visuals are excellent and intimately close to the performers. The sound is crisp and crackling. Here's a sample - "Blues After Dark" from the 1958 gig.

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