Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dizzy in the sky

If you want to hear Dizzy Gillespie work the high notes, you can do a lot worse than "Cool Breeze" on "Dizzy Gillespie at Newport," Verve, recorded 49 years ago this month. Memorable sax playing from Benny Golson and Billy Mitchell, too.

John Birks sure should have been famous for his small-group bebop recordings with Charlie Parker, but I think I like him best leading his mid-1950s big bands. Besides Golson and Mitchell (on my all-underrated sax team), this one includes Lee Morgan and Wynton Kelly, among others, along with a guest turn by Mary Lou Williams, who does wonderful Latin-inflected soloing on "Carioca." Standout version of "A Night in Tunisia" as well, with some cool Dizzy improvising. Classic.

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