Dizzy Gillespie - trumpet, vocals; James Moody - tenor sax, flute; Kenny Barron - piano; Christopher White - bass; Rudy Collins - drums; Guest: Big Black - congas
A legendary figure in the history of jazz, trumpeter and bebop pioneer John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was a player of unparalleled facility as well as a consummate entertainer and charismatic raconteur who brought joy to audiences all over the world. A perennial favorite at George Wein's annual clambake in Rhode Island, his appearance at the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival came around the same time as his Afro-Caribbean flavored release Jambo Caribe on Verve.
Performing a special world music program that explores rhythms and idioms from Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and the West Indies, Gillespie and his crew create an ebullient mood on the Newport stage for their Friday evening set. They open with the African-flavored Gillespie original "Kush" (which first appeared on 1961's An Electrifying Evening with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, recorded live at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and later appeared on 1967's Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac). James Moody's unaccompanied flute work sets a gentle tone at the outset before the band heads into a hypnotic 6/8 groove with Dizzy's animated chanting on top adding to the exotica. Gillespie then cues the familiar theme and segues to some brilliant but subdued muted trumpet work to conclude Part 1. Part 2 of this energized offering has Moody blowing with abandon on tenor sax over the churning percussive groove provided by conga player Big Black, bassist Christopher White, and drummer Rudy Collins. Pianist Kenny Barron also contributes a magnificent, harmonically probing solo on this dynamic Dizzy staple.
Next up, they blend elements of bebop with the driving maracatu rhythm of Northeastern Brazil on the Lalo Schifrin tune "Pau De Arara" (which originally appeared on Gillespie's 1962 Verve album, Dizzy on the French Riviera). You can hear a quote from Dizzy's "Bebop" in the middle of Moody's blazing tenor solo here, and Dizzy follows with some dazzling high-note trumpet work that should astound students of the instrument. Pianist Barron keeps the energy level high with a blistering solo of his own on this frantic workout.
They remain in Brazil for a rendition of Luiz Bonfa's achingly beautiful minor key bossa nova "Morning of the Carnival" (from the popular 1959 motion picture Black Orpheus), which has Moody switching back to flute. Dizzy plays the tune through on muted trumpet while Barron provides some lovely piano accompaniment on this melancholy number. From Brazil, they travel to Cuba for a rendition of Gillespie's Latin jazz classic, "Con Alma," one of the most oft-covered tunes in his extensive repertoire. Barron contributes an outstanding piano solo on this Dizzy staple and the trumpet fires up the tune midway through with his patented bop-meets-salsa chops. Moody adds to the pyrotechnics with a remarkably facile tenor solo.
Putting on his entertainer hat, Dizzy then turns in a good natured vocal rendition of the catchy West Indian calypso number "Poor Joe" (credited to composer Joe Willoughby, though it sounds suspiciously similar to Louis Jordan's 1947 calypso hit, "Run Joe"). Dizzy's quintet concludes its July 2nd Newport appearance with an exuberant reading of the Jobim bossa nova classic "Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)," a tune made famous in the States by Stan Getz's relaxed rendition on 1962's Big Band Bossa Nova. Gillespie's version kicks into a whole other gear as the indefatigable trumpeter leads his spirited crew on this raucous set-closer. We also get to hear conga ace Big Black stretch out toward the end on a masterful conga solo, putting a decided Afro-Caribbean spin on this Brazilian classic.
Born on October 21, 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina, Gillespie began on trombone, switched to trumpet at age 12 and began playing professionally at age 18, inspired by the exuberant Swing Era trumpeter Roy Eldridge. He broke into the business with the Frankie Fairfax band based in Philadelphia and in 1937 replaced his trumpet hero Eldridge in the Teddy Hill Orchestra, making his recording debut on a version of Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp." Gillespie joined Cab Calloway's band in 1939 and he remained for two years, eventually getting fired by the bandleader in 1941 for allegedly throwing a spitball at Calloway (though trumpeter Jonah Jones later admitted to being the culprit). Dizzy subsequently freelanced in a number of situations, including bands led by Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet, and Duke Ellington, before joining Earl Hines' adventurous orchestra in 1942. (Gillespie wrote his most famous composition, "A Night in Tunisia," while employed by Hines).
After joining Billy Eckstine's bebop big band in 1943, Gillespie found himself playing alongside such future stars as Charlie Parker, Leo Parker, Art Blakey, Wardell Gray, Oscar Pettiford, Fats Navarro, Sonny Stitt, and Sarah Vaughan. He recorded with Eckstine in 1944 and that year also participated in a seminal bebop session with tenor sax great Coleman Hawkins that included Dizzy's composition "Woody 'n You." In 1945, Gillespie teamed up with Charlie Parker (whom he often referred to as "my worthy constituent" or "the other half of my heartbeat") to revolutionize the jazz world with such rhythmically advanced numbers as "Groovin' High," "Shaw Nuff," and "Salt Peanuts," setting the tone for the bebop movement of the late '40s. Gillespie later put together a big band featuring Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo that pioneered the melding of jazz and Afro-Cuban music through such vehicles as "Manteca" and "Cubana Be/Cubana Bop." He had a few reunions with his former partner Charlie Parker, including the legendary 1953 Massey Hall concert in Toronto, Canada) and subsequently toured with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic revue, engaging in trumpet battles with various players, including his role model Roy Eldridge. Between 1956 and 1958, Gillespie functioned as a kind of international ambassador for jazz, traveling on several US State Department-sponsored tours to Europe, South America, and the Far East. These trips abroad whetted his appetite for music of other cultures, serving as a springboard for later investigations into world music.
Dizzy led several small groups through the '60s and in the '70s participated in a string recordings for Norman Granz's Pablo label, including 1975's The Trumpet Kings at Montreux with fellow trumpeters Clark Terry and Roy Eldridge. Though Dizzy's chops were diminished by the '80s, he continued playing and touring through the decade with his United Nations Orchestra featuring an international cast including Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez, Cuban drummer Ignacio Berrora, Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi, Brazilian singer Flora Purim, Puerto Rico percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo, and Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sanchez. His last two recordings, taken from a month-long engagement at New York's Blue Note jazz club in 1992, feature all-star lineups and various special guests and are titled To Bird with Love and To Diz with Love. He died a year later, on January 7, 1993, at his home in Englewood, New Jersey. (Milkowski)