- I'm Be Boppin' Too
- Cool Breeze
- 'Round Midnight
- Birk's Works
- If You Could See Me Now
- Dizzy's Blues
- Una Mas
- I Can't Get Started
- One Bass Hit
- Tin Tin Deo
- Lover Come Back to Me
Dizzy Gillespie loved his Big Band. He premiered it in 1945, then led it off-and-on through 1989.
Bassist John Lee. Dizzy's bassist from 1983-1992, also loved those bands. "I enjoyed that music so much", he says. In 1998, Lee teamed with trombonist, composer and arranger Slide Hampton - a member of the 1960 Gillespie band - and trumpeter Jon Faddis to form the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band. they wanted to celebrate that unique big band sound as heard in its heyday, and to allow a further evolution through new arrangements and additions.
Now known as the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band - with Lee as executive director and Hampton as musical director - the ensemble is back with its third album. Per usual, the band delivers exhilarating performances on a collection of great material.
The top-drawer personnel includes five musicians who played with Diz, plus many other A-1 jazz names. "We're lucky to have these guys", says Lee.
The album boasts older charts that haven't been heard much with some new ones. 1947's I'm Beboppin' Too is fun and bouncy, and spotlights a Roy Hargrove vocal, and engaging solos from Mike Dease and Greg Gisbert.
Ebullient scat vocals by James Moody and Roberta Gambarini light up Cool Breeze. gisbert and Steve Davis also blow, as do Moody and Jimmy Heath.
Robert then offers an emotive version of Monk's 'Round Midnight, arranged by Slide. Yotam Silberstein and Dease also speak.
Manteca - by Gillespie and conga drummer Chano Pozo - was key to the late-1940's Afro-Cuban Jazz movement. Slide's new arrangement is dynamic.
Dizzy's blues, Birk's Works, was a sextet tune expanded by Ernie Wilkins, Claudio Roditi is in top form, as is Cyrus Chestnut.
Jimmy Heath's deft chart on Dameron's If You Could See Me Now is another showcase for Gambarini's ballad acumen.
The romping Dizzy's Blues, by A. K. Salim, arrived in 1947. "This is a great song that nobody plays', says Lee.
Heath's version of Dorham's Una Mas is "a great arrangement", says Lee, "and has become a real crowd pleaser".
I Can't Get Started gets a fresh look from John "Doc" Wilson's chart, which spotlights Hargrove.
One Bass Hit, written by Ray Brown, Diz, and Gil Fuller, showcases Lee's pliant lines amidst band passages.
The simmering Tin Tin Deo, penned in 1948 by Diz, Chano, and Gil, is another timeless Latin ditty.
The closing Lover Come Back to Me, via Slide, races along, featuring Roberta, who then scat trades with Roy, Mr. Heath, Davis, and Cyrus. Big fun, just like the rest of this superb album by an important, powerhouse ensemble.
(By Zan Stewart, from the original liner notes)
Slide Hampton - musical director
James Moody - tenor sax, flute, vocals
Jimmy Heath - tenor sax
Antonio Hart - lead alto sax, flute
Mark Gross - alto sax, flute
Gary Smulyan - baritone sax
Frank Greene - lead trumpet
Greg Gisbert - trumpet
Roy Hargrove - trumpet, vocals
Claudio Roditi - trumpet
Jason Jackson - lead trombone
Steve Davis - trombone
Michael Dease - trombone
Douglas Purviance - bass trombone
Cyrus Chestnut - piano
John Lee - bass, executive director
Lewis Nash - drums
Roberta Gambarini - vocals