Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dizzy early

Besides "Dizzy Gillespie at Newport" and "Birks Works: The Verve Big-Band Sessions," covering Dizzy Gillespie's stellar 1956-57 "State Department" big bands, I wouldn't be without "Dizzy Gillespie: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings," Bluebird. The two-disk set starts with four tracks (including a version of the "King Porter Stomp" like you've never heard the "King Porter Stomp") of Gillespie in Teddy Hills' and Lionel Hampton's orchestras in 1937 and '39 and then covers Dizzy's own '46 to '49 groups, before economics forced him to fold up the big band tent.

A host of bop standards, such as "52nd Street Theme" and "Anthropology," get large-group treatment and you hear him go full-bore into incorporating Afro-Cuban forms into his music, after dabbling previously, by adding legendary congero Chano Pozo for "Manteca," "Cubana Be," "Cubana Bop" and other Latin-laced tunes. The recasting of "St. Louis Blues," which author Donald Maggin says honked off W.C. Handy, is priceless, the learned Professor Handy notwithstanding. Nifty Latinized version of "That Old Black Magic" with Johnny Hartman singing. Dizzy throws down in soling on "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid," which almost skirts the avant-garde in places.

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