Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Mickey Roker

In the autumnal phase of his recording career, Dizzy Gillespie was reunited with Jazz At The Philharmonic producer Norman Granz for a series of finely crafted recordings on his Pablo label (so named because Granz financed the label by selling off some of his valuable Picassos).

These later recordings are often mistakenly undervalued by critics, despite their superb production values, dynamic acoustic sound, and generally provocative mix of players and musical materials. DIZZY'S BIG 4 is one of the very best, featuring a dream team rhythm section that responds to all of Gillespie's virtuoso challenges, and then some. Ray Brown is one of the all-time greats, who startled the jazz world when he first emerged as Dizzy's bassist while still in his teens; drummer Mickey Roker is a commanding percussionist and long-time Gillespie collaborator, while guitarist Joe Pass is a stellar virtuoso, with a series of excellent recitals of his own on Pablo.

Gillespie is in a particularly puckish mood on these sessions. Where the youthful Gillespie might have ordinarily opted for more of the bravura pyrotechnics, represented herein by the relentlessly uptempo changes of "Be Bop (Dizzy's Fingers)," DIZZY'S BIG 4 is distinguished by the ballads "Hurry Home," "Russian Lullaby" and "September Song." Here the trumpeter's rich timbral shadings plumb deep new meaning from these familiar melodies. Most impressive is Dizzy's depth and range as a blues player, which further enlivens his improvisations on Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz," his own latin styled funk on "Frelimo" and the hard bopping "Birks Works."

1.Frelimo 8:06 (Gillespie)
2.Hurry Home 6:20 (Meyer/Emmerich/Bernier)
3.Russian Lullaby 6:46 (I. Berlin)
4.Be Bop (Dizzy's Fingers) 4:26 (Gillespie)
5.Birks Works 8:48 (Dizzy Gillespie)
6.September Song 2:45 (M. Anderson/K. Weill)
7.Jitterbug Waltz 6:49 (Fats Waller)

Dizzy Gillespie t
Joe Pass g
Ray Brown b
Mickey Roker d

Recorded at Cherokee Recording Studios, Hollywood, California on September 17 & 19, 1974. Originally released on Pablo (2310-719). Produced by Norman Granz.Includes liner notes by Benny Green.
Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).

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