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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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To Bird With Love

Telarc CD 83316


1. Billie’s Bounce
2. Bebop
3. Ornithology
4. Anthropology
5. Oo Pa Pa Da
6. The Diamond Jubilee Blues
7. The Theme
Dizzy Gillespie – Trumpet, rhythm stick, vocals
Danilo Perez – Piano
George Mraz – Bass
Lewis Nash – Drums (tracks 2-7)
Kenny Washington – Drums (track 1)
Benny Golson, David Sanchez – Tenor saxes (track 1)
Clifford Jordan – Tenor sax (tracks 2, 3)
Antonio Hart – Alto sax (tracks 2, 3)
Paquito D’Rivera, Jackie McLean – Alto saxes (tracks 4-7)
Bobby McFerrin – Vocals (track 5)

Dizzy Gillespie’s 75th birthday was celebrated in January 1992 at the Blue Note club in New York with an all-star line-up. They performed tunes associated with the bebop era, in which Gillespie played such a vital role. Despite his years, Dizzy showed on the opening Billie’s Bounce that he could still play interesting solos, with a tone which had mellowed over the years – although he could still hit those high notes that make your eyes water. On this track, two tenorists flanked him – Benny Golson in powerful mode and the much younger David Sanchez, displaying the influence of John Coltrane.

This is followed by the frantic and demanding Bebop, with Clifford Jordan exploring the tenor sax from top to bottom, Antonio Hart wailing on the alto, and Dizzy playing mainly close to his chest although with occasional outbursts. Here and elsewhere, the rhythm section keeps the cooker burning with gas. The tempo eases somewhat for Ornithology, where the whole front line plays restrained solos which are nevertheless eloquent.

Anthropology pumps up the speed again, with a rather ragged theme statement followed by assured solos from Paquito D’Rivera (high up on the alto), Gillespie in cheeky mood, and Jackie McLean making his alto sounding almost as reedy as an oboe. Bobby McFerrin comes on stage to match Dizzy in vocal gymnastics on Oo Pa Pa Da, followed by a masterly clarinet solo from Paquito D’Rivera which unexpectedly goes into half-time for a chorus – a practice followed by subsequent soloists. Jackie McLean’s solo echoes Charlie Parker’s style, while Dizzy has hints of Latin-American rhythms in his daringly dexterous solo before reprising his eccentric vocals.

After five long tracks (none less than ten minutes), the CD closes with the short Diamond Jubilee Blues (more jokey Gillespie vocals) and the traditional closer The Theme. The recording quality is OK for a concert session, although Dizzy’s vocals at the end of Oo Pa Pa Da come through very faintly. At any rate, it sounds like a good time was had by all, and listeners can easily join in the fun by obtaining this mid-price album.

Tony Augarde


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