First and most important: Happy Birthday, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie. Born one hundred years ago, on October 21, 1917 and blessing us music lovers with his presence until Jan 6, 1993, leaving a catalog of excellent to must-listen-to music for many generations of listeners.
I was lucky enough to see him live in Oslo, Norway in 1978 and hear him and his group play “Night in Tunisia.” He was personable, relaxed, and loved being in front of a small auditorium of very attentive listeners. The music was excellent and the time raced by. At the end, I realized how lucky I was to get a ticket that very evening an hour or two before the performance, and thus be able to witness such amazing music. I am also thankful that I had a friend, who earlier, in California, had persuaded me to go with him to listen to jazz artists like Sonny Stitt and Milt Jackson, leading my onto the path of developing my love for bebop.
You see, Dizzy was one of the founding fathers of bebop, along with other giants like Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell. The recordings he made in the 1940s with Charlie Parker are essential listening, and are as an important part of musical history as the premiere of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” (aka “Le Sacre du printemps”), Alban Berg’s two amazing operas, or the British Invasion and the rise of The Beatles and development of progressive rock.
We are very fortunate that on October 1st, 1967, three sets of music were recorded at the Village Vanguard, the famous jazz New York City jazz club. The Solid State LP includes three tracks, one from each set, with Dizzy, Pepper Adams on baritone saxophone, Ray Nance on violin, Chick Corea on piano, Richard Davis on bass, and, on drums, Elvin Jones on “Dizzy’s Blues”, and Mel Lewis on the other two tracks. Later, Solid State releases two more LPs of material, which Blue Note later releases on CD in a 2 CD set.
This music is not to be missed, the musicians are excellent and the playing is riveting. If you want to sample the first LP released by Solid State, you can find it on youtube:
Track listing (all compositions by Dizzy Gillespie)
- Dizzy’s Blues (aka”Birk’s Works”) – 14:30 (This is edited and the complete, nearly eighteen minute version is available on the Blue Note 2 CD set)
- “Blues for Max” – 9:10
- “Tour de Force” – 9:45 (This is edited and the complete, nearly twelve minute version is available on the Blue Note 2 CD set)
- Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet
- Pepper Adams, baritone sax
- Ray Nance, violin
- Garnett Brown (on “Tour de Force), trombone
- Chick Corea, piano
- Richard Davis, bass
- Elvin Jones (on Dizzy’s Blues), Mel Lewis (on “Blues for Max, “Tour de Force”), drums
As great as this music is, I would advise to supplement it with another live album, “Sweet Low, Sweet Cadillac.” The Impulse record label brings together recordings from three different concerts in May 1967, one in NYC and two in L.A. to provide another glimpse of what a Dizzy-led 1967 live performance was like. The playfulness and charm of the master is captured as well as some great music. This is the only recording I have where Dizzy sings, and, though not at the level as the 1967 Village Vanguard recordings, this is a treat not to be missed.
Track listing[from Wikipedia]
- All compositions by Dizzy Gillespie except as indicated
- “Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac” – 7:17
- “Mas que Nada” (Jorge Ben) – 6:15
- “Bye” – 1:15
- “Something in Your Smile” (Leslie Bricusse) – 2:40
- “Kush” – 15:50
- Recorded at Memory Lane in Los Angeles, California on May 25 & 26, 1967
- Dizzy Gillespie – trumpet, vocals
- James Moody – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, vocals
- Mike Longo – piano
- Frank Schifano – bass
- Otis Candy Finch Jr. – drums
Comments on: "Fifty Year Friday: Dizzy Gillespie in 1967" (4)
Was lucky to see Dizzy with Jon Faddis at Newport Jazz Festival at Lincoln Center in early 80’s. Dizzy was a funny guy and was more of an MC by that time, leaving the more challenging passages to Faddis, but there were still glimpses of his brilliance.
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poison21, that must of been special to see! Thanks for sharing!
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Dr. Z– I am envious; never got to see Dizzy. But I did indeed see Sonny Stitt nigh to 40 years ago at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, and Milt Jackson roughly around 1980 at Blue’s Alley in D.C. But the best show I ever saw was Sonny Rollins in the fall of 1979 in a small auditorium at American University. Those being the dark days of disco, most of the kids didn’t know who Rollins was–I scored a front row seat for a song and was blown right out of it by Rollins’ virtuosity. After that first show, I went to the box office, found out there were still seats available for the second show, and took in Sonny from the balcony. I walked home that night as if on air–Rollins’ playing put me in a different place. That was music!
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Not Dr. Z here — just the administrator of this nearly dormant website — don’t hear much from the Z-man lately, so writing these meaningless album reviews which do draw in search engine hits and keep the site from vanishing from googleland.
Envious here — for your seeing Rollins up close and twice in one night. I had a friend,distantly related to Leo the Deacon, who took me to the same venue you mention to see Sonny Stitt, and one of my initial thoughts was that this Stitt guy had named himself “Sonny”, imitating Sonny Rollins, and I was disappointed I wasn’t getting to see a bigger name like Sonny Rollins. But when I got there I was indeed impressed. You mention you saw Milt Jackson in 1980, but I got to see him with the same friend around 1975 or so. If I was smart I would have neglected my studies and gone at least once a week to the Lighthouse, but glad I got to go at least a few times. P.S. that same friend once said that the studio albums Sonny Rollins made never did him justice — he was a live performer. With that in mind, the first Rollins album I ever purchased was this album of “The Milestones Jazz Stars” live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7tT5Lmpph8
This album is very special to me — once bought it, sold it and then now have it again. It was recored in 1978 — just a short time before you saw Mr. Rollins live at AU. You are a very fortunate, East Coaster.