Jazz at 100 Hour 26: That Dizzy Cat – Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie grew up professionally playing in the big bands of Teddy Hill, Cab Calloway, Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine and writing for Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey. The wartime economy with its shortages and the musician’s strike of the early 1940s led Gillespie to focus on small combos for his own projects, including his seminal collaborations with Charlie Parker in 1945 – 1946. However Dizzy returned whenever he could to the big band format and by mid-1946, he was fronting the first of several financially challenging but musically groundbreaking big bands.

Diz and Bird.
“In May [1945], Parker and Gillespie were reunited at a session that produced ‘Salt Peanuts,’ noteworthy for a scalding Gillespie contribution that stands out as one of the most dramatic brass solos in the history of jazz.” – Ted Gioia

Salt Peanuts. Dizzy Gillespie and His All Stars
(Dizzy Gillespie-tp, Charlie Parker-as, Al Haig-p, Curly Russell-b, Sid Catlett-d). 5/11/1945.
Hot House. Dizzy Gillespie and His All Stars
(Dizzy Gillespie-tp, Charlie Parker-as, Al Haig-p, Curly Russell-b, Sid Catlett-d). 5/11/1945.

Shaw ‘Nuff. Dizzy Gillespie and His All Stars
(Dizzy Gillespie-tp, Charlie Parker-as, Al Haig-p, Curly Russell-b, Sid Catlett-d). 5/11/1945. (Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz)
“This startling performance might be a classic if only for the superb unison passages between the two hornmen. They seem to enunciate the slightest nuance, even to the ‘swallowed’ notes, as one man. But it has leaping, ebullient, even humorous solos. And it offers full-blown, a new jazz.” – Martin Williams from the notes to Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz

A Night in Tunisia.
“What a pleasure it is to hear the Gillespie band’s initial version [of ‘A Night in Tunisia’] in 1946. Gillespie had a past-into-future band; it included Don Byas, one of the great early-forties tenor players, as well as Milt Jackson on vibraphone and Ray Brown on bass. But Gillespie’s solo … is the high point, with fluent playing at the extremes of the horn, a sense of resolving logic, and incredible swing.” – Ben Ratliff

A Night in Tunisia. Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra
(Dizzy Gillespie-tp, Don Byas-ts, Milt Jackson-vib, Al Haig-p, Bill DeArango-g, Ray Brown-b, J.C. Heard-d). 2/22/1946.

Dizzy Gillespie, George Russell and Afro-Cuban Jazz.
“In commissioning compositions from a young ex-drummer named George Russell, Gillespie introduced modality into big-band jazz, anticipating aspects of the 1950s and 1960s avant-garde before the public had made peace with bop. At the same time he almost single-handedly spurred the Afro-Cuban jazz movement: he hired the great Cuban percussionist and composer Chano Pozo and teamed up with several major Latin jazz figures, including Mario Bauza, Machito, and Chico O’Farrill, setting the stage for salsa and other rhythmic cross cultural fusions.” – Gary Giddens & Scott DeVeaux

Cubana Be. Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra
(Dave Burns-tp, Elmon Wright-tp, Benny Bailey-tp, Lamar Wright-tp, Bill Shepherd-tb, Ted Kelly-tp, Howard Johnson-as, John Brown-as, Joe Gayles-ts, George “Big Nick” Nicholas-ts, Cecil Payne-bs, John Lewis-p, Al McKibbon-b, Kenny Clarke-d, Chano Pozo-cga). 12/22/1947.
Cubana Bop. Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra
(Dave Burns-tp, Elmon Wright-tp, Benny Bailey-tp, Lamar Wright-tp, Bill Shepherd-tb, Ted Kelly-tp, Howard Johnson-as, John Brown-as, Joe Gayles-ts, George “Big Nick” Nicholas-ts, Cecil Payne-bs, John Lewis-p, Al McKibbon-b, Kenny Clarke-d, Chano Pozo-cga). 12/22/1947.

Diz and Chano Pozo.
“Gillespie had already displayed a penchant for Afro rhythms in ‘A Night In Tunisia,’ but now he delved deeply in to the arena of Cuban music, a subject about which he knew virtually nothing – in consulting [Mario] Bauza, he initially called the congas ‘one of those tom-tom things’. He was a fast learner, eventually becoming a fair congas player himself. But in Pozo, he had a master: a tough, wiry man who had been something of an underground legend in Havana. He had limited command of English, but Gillespie gave him free reign to instill Latin polyrhythms in his band… In December 1947, the Gillespie band recorded their major works together: ‘Cubano Be’ and ‘Cubano Bop’ …, ‘Algo Bueno’ and the instantly influential ‘Manteca.’ Recalling the response to ‘Manteca,’ Gillespie said, ‘It was similar to a nuclear weapon when it burst on the scene. They’d never heard Cuban music and American music like that before’” – Gary Giddens & Scott Deveaux

Manteca. Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra
(Dave Burns-tp, Elmon Wright-tp, Benny Bailey-tp, Lamar Wright-tp, Bill Shepherd-tb, Ted Kelly-tp, Howard Johnson-as, John Brown-as, Joe Gayles-ts, George “Big Nick” Nicholas-ts, Cecil Payne-bs, John Lewis-p, Al McKibbon-b, Kenny Clarke-d, Chano Pozo-cga). 12/30/1947. (The Norton Jazz Collection)
Algo Bueno (Woody’n You). Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra
(Dave Burns-tp, Elmon Wright-tp, Benny Bailey-tp, Lamar Wright-tp, Bill Shepherd-tb, Ted Kelly-tp, Howard Johnson-as, John Brown-as, Joe Gayles-ts, George “Big Nick” Nicholas-ts, Cecil Payne-bs, John Lewis-p, Al McKibbon-b, Kenny Clarke-d, Chano Pozo-cga). 12/22/1947.

Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra.
“Gillespie brought his bebop-flavored big-band entertainment to cheering crowds well into the 1950s, and occasionally fronted large bands for the rest of his life. Audiences not ready for bebop could still enjoy his mordant sense of humor, his hip-twisting dancing, and his elaborate scat-singing translations of bebop riffs on tunes like ‘Oop-Bop-Sh’bam’ and ‘Ool-Ya-Koo’… Through all this Dizzy’s exhilarating bebop lines soared, the trumpet section performing dazzling block-chord-textured phrases that sounded as close to his as possible.” – Gary Giddens & Scott DeVeaux

Ool-Ya-Koo. Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra
(Dave Burns-tp, Willie Cook-tp, Elmon Wright-tp, Dizzy Gillespie-tp/voc, Cindy Duryea-tb, Bill Shepherd-tb, Jesse Tarrant-tb, Ernie Henry-as, John Brown-as/voc, Joe Gayles-ts, James Moody-ts, Cecil Payne-bs, James Forman-o, Nelson Boyd-b, Teddy Stewart-d, Chano Pozo-cga/voc). 7/19/1948. (The Jazz Singers)
Oo Bop Sh’Bam. Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra
(Dave Burns-tp, Talib Dawud-tp, John Lynch-tp, Elmon Wright-tp, Leon Comegys-tb, Slim Moore-tb, Gordon Thomas-tb, Howard Johnson-as, John Brown-as, James Moody-ts, Ray Abrams-ts, Sol Moore-bs, Milt Jackson-vib, Thelonious Monk-p, Ray Brown-b, Kenny Clarke-d). 6/1946.
‘Round Midnight. Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra
(Dave Burns-tp, Talib Dawud-tp, John Lynch-tp, Elmon Wright-tp, Leon Comegys-tb, Slim Moore-tb, Gordon Thomas-tb, Howard Johnson-as, John Brown-as, James Moody-ts, Ray Abrams-ts, Sol Moore-bs, Milt Jackson-vib, Thelonious Monk-p, Ray Brown-b, Kenny Clarke-d). 6/1946.

It is said that you can split the history of jazz piano into two periods – Before Bud Powell and after Bud Powell. In the next hour of Jazz at 100, we will listen to the seminal late 1940s recordings of Bud Powell that defined bebop piano playing.

Recordings.
The Norton Jazz Recordings – 4 Compact Discs for use with JAZZ by Scott DeVeaux and Gary Giddens. W.W. Norton 933796.
The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. Columbia P6 11891.
The Jazz Singers – A Smithsonian Collection. Sony Music RD 113
Bebop Story: Vol. 011, Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker Vol. 1 (1945). World’s Greatest Jazz Collection.
Dizzy Gillespie – The Complete RCA Victor Recordings. Bluebird 66528-2 2CD
Dizzy Gillespie Big Band – Showtime at the Spotlite, 52nd Street New York City, June 1946.Uptown CD 27.53/54

Resources.
DeVeaux, Scott. 1997. The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History. Berkely, CA, University of California Press.
Kirchner, Bill (editor). 2000. The Oxford Companion To Jazz. New York, NY. The Oxford University Press
“The Advent of Bebop” by Scott DeVeaux
Giddens, Gary & DeVeaux, Scott. 2009. JAZZ. New York, NY. WW Norton & Company.
Chapter 11. Modern Jazz: Bebop
Giddens, Gary. 1998. Visions of Jazz: The First Century. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 31. Dizzy Gillespie (The Coup and After)
Gioia, Ted. 2011. The History of Jazz. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 6. Modern Jazz
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
Dizzy Gillespie – The Complete RCA Victor Recordings
Ratliff, Ben. 2002. The New York Times Essential Library of Jazz. New York. Times Books.
Chapter 13. Dizzy Gillespie, The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1937-1949)
Chapter 16. Chano Pozo, El Tambor de Cuba: Life and Music of the Legendary Cuban Conga Player (1939-1952)

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