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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DIZZY GILLESPIE QUINTET

Complete Studio Recordings

American Jazz Classics 99018

 

 


CD1
1. My Heart Belongs to Daddy
2. My Man
3. Moonglow
4, St Louis Blues
5. Woody 'n' You
6. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
7. There is No Greater Love
8. I Found a Million Dollar Baby (In the Five and Ten Cent Store)
9. Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac
10. Always
11. Willow Weep for Me
12. Ungawa
13. Lorraine

CD2
1. Girl of my Dreams
2. Constantinople
3. The Umbella Man
4. Squatty Roo
5. Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be
6. I Found a Million Dollar Baby (In the Five and Ten Cent Store)
7. There is No Greater Love (alternate take 1)
8. There is No Greater Love (alternate take 2)
9. There is No Greater Love (alternate take 3)
10. Sugar Hips
11. One Alone (Lonely One)
12. Hey Pete! Let's Eat More Meat
13. Money Honey
14. Blue Mood
15. Rails
16. Devil and the Flesh
17. Rumbola

Dizzy Gillespie - Trumpet, vocals
Junior Mance - Piano
Les Spann - Guitar, flute
Sam Jones - Bass
Lex Humphries - Drums
Francisco "Chino" Pozo - Congas (tracks I/5, 12, 13)
Johnny Hodges - Alto sax (track II/4)
Bonus tracks (CDII/10-17)
Dizzy Gillespie - Trumpet, vocals
Hank Mobley - Tenor sax
Wade Legge - Piano
Lou Hackney - Bass
Charlie Persip - Drums
Jimmy Cleveland - Trombone (tracks II/14-16)

 

Although I believe that Dizzy Gillespie was one of the finest trumpeters in jazz, the sheer volume of his playing - particularly with his big band - could be overwhelmingly ear-piercing. That is one reason why I prefer many of his small-group recordings - and this album contains some of the best. The double CD consists primarily of two LPs from 1959, entitled respectively Have Trumpet, Will Excite and The Ebullient Mr Gillespie, with the addition of some extra tracks from the same sessions and eight bonus items recorded in 1954.

The 1959 recordings were memorable not only for capturing Dizzy during one of his most creative periods but also working with a small group which he had obviously come to feel comfortable with. The group included the under-rated guitarist/flautist Les Spann. Les always made his mark with melodic solos and intelligent accompaniments. The group also benefited from the presence of bluesy pianist Junior Mance, solid-as-a-rock bassist Sam Jones, and the vigorous drums of Lex Humphreys. On three tracks, Cuban conga-drummer Chino Pozo (a cousin of Chano Pozo) added a characteristically Latin feel which Gillespie found so energizing.

The opening My Heart Belongs to Daddy sets the tone for the whole album, with Dizzy playing muted trumpet and the rhythm section thrusting things along energetically but subtly. The arrangement adds an intriguing riff to the basic melody, and the dynamics are cleverly varied. The effective use of contrast is clear in a track like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, where a long sequence of African-style chanting turns into an easygoing swing. And many of the arrangements bring a new taste to old tunes: like the irresistible St Louis Blues and Girl of My Dreams, which is salted with a nice counter-melody.

You can still hear the elements of bebop in Dizzy's playing, but he seems to have settled for a less showy but still evocative style, improvising on jazz standards and his own compositions, such as Woody 'n' You and Lorraine. And there are still touches of that inimitable Gillespie humour, as in the neatly abrupt ending of My Man, and the tongue-in-cheek vocals on The Umbrella Man. Les Spann justifies his pay twice over, with eloquent flute solos on tunes like Moonglow and thoughtful guitar solos on such items as Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.

Johnny Hodges makes a welcome guest appearance on his Ellingtonian speciality, Squatty Roo, where Dizzy's beboppish phrases are set alongside Hodges' mainstream playing, showing that Gillespie was a mainstream player as well as a bebopper. One of the glories of the music throughout these sessions is the relaxation. Even when Dizzy produces one of those startling flurries of notes, he still sounds at ease.

The eight closing tracks from 1954 offer a different sound, with a more assertive Gillespie spurred on by tenorist Hank Mobley. I don't find these tracks as likeable as the others, since they lack the relaxed feel that made the other tracks so accessible.

Alyn Shipton's biography of Dizzy Gillespie (Groovin' High) calls the 1959 recordings "lacklustre" but they strike me as being more lustrous than almost any other album Dizzy made. Highly recommended.

Tony Augarde



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