Dizzy Gillespie is considered to be the greatest jazz trumpeter of all time. His complex signature style influenced generations of jazz artists. This collection of classics from one of the most loved and respected jazz performers includes the standards "Night And Day," "Pennies From Heaven" and "Blue Moon."
Personnel includes: Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet); Charlie Parker (alto saxophone); Don Byas (tenor saxophone); The Operatic Strings (strings); Clyde Hart, Arnold Ross (piano); Remo Palmieri (guitar); Slam Stewart (bass); Cozy Cole (drums).
Recorded between 1945 and 1953. Includes liner notes by Scott Yanow.
Digitally remastered by Les Brown Jr., Sean King and Robert King (Renown Entertainment, Woodland Hills, California).
Dizzy Gillespie has embraced many approaches to jazz, based in the bebop form he helped invent. He was also cognizant of popular trends, and when his partner Charlie Parker attained success with the use of a large orchestral and string section, Gillespie paid attention. The majority of this project comprises Gillespie as the featured soloist with Operatic Strings, arranged by Jo Boyer and Daniel White, recorded in Paris, circa 1952 and 1953. If you really enjoy classical jazz, this collection should appeal to you, for it is generally well done, decently recorded, and melds the two worlds pleasantly. It remains a curiosity, and one can only wonder whether it was made for purely commercial reasons. Gillespie performs solidly in his own style, attempting to float over the stringy mix, and generally succeeds by playing above board and straight-ahead without really paying mind or deferring to the backdrop. At times the group achieves movie theme drama as on "Night & Day" where Gillespie cuts loose a bit, during the upbeat and evocative "Jealousy" in a West Side Story film noir mood with Gillespie as an afterthought, the stock, unmemorable reading of "My Old Flame,"or the schizophrenic intro to a disjointed "Pennies from Heaven," though Gillespie plays fine. Scott Yanow comments on the liner notes that the arrangement of "The Very Thought of You" might be "potentially insipid," but Gillespie swings it out, while the breezy strings are dominant on "The Man I Love," but Gillespie's sophistication wins out. At times blaring over the swoopy layers of "Sweet & Lovely," one cannot help but feel a strong sense of melancholy and the musicians simply doing their jobs. The saving grace of this set, depending on your perspective, are quartet sessions with pianist Arnold Ross, including the Louis Armstrong signature song "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," and a fine rendition of "Blue Moon" with clickity clack stick on rims work, a booming bass, and Gillespie navigating through the melody as only he could. Don Byas is added for one short but exceptional cut, "Blue & Sentimental," an excellent example of the great tenor saxophonist's full and rich sound as Gillespie enters cavalierly. Tacked on at the end of the CD are three historic quintet selections from 1945 with Charlie Parker, including the engaging title track, the excellent and slightly exaggerated "All the Things You Are" where four bandmembers play their versions of the melody line by themselves, and the classic bop icon "Dizzy Atmosphere," a fine example of two accomplished bop masters at work. The sound of the small group recordings is a bit distant, at times distorted, and in the case of Gillespie's horn, echoed, possibly due to thin studio acoustics not dampened enough. Certainly Gillespie completists will enjoy this good and interesting collection of standards, oddities, and romantic music, but it is not an essential item in his vast discography. ~ Michael G. Nastos