Take 20 top jazz musicians and arrangers, add a swinging vocalist, put them on stage at the intimate, acoustically excellent Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, count off a downbeat, start recording and what do you get? Dizzy’s Business, a recording by the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band that pays tribute to the legendary trumpeter and his music.
This recording features many of the same musicians who played on the band’s first MCG release, 2002’s Things to Come. Sax players Antonio Hart, Jimmy Heath, Gary Smulyan and Frank Wess, trumpeters Greg Gisbert and Claudio Roditi, trombonists Jay Ashby and Douglas Purviance, guitarist Marty Ashby, bassist John Lee and drummer Dennis Mackrel return, joined by bandleader Slide Hampton, Randy Brecker, Steve Davis, Frank Greene, Roy Hargrove, Jason Jackson, Mulgrew Miller, James Moody, vocalist Roberta Gambarini and arranger Ernie Wilkins. There’s excellent soloing throughout and some nicely updated arrangements by Hampton, Mackrel and Wilkins and two fine originals by Heath, “Without You, No Me (To Dizzy)” and “Moody’s Groove.”
It’s hard to pick out high points among such an array of talent, but give extra credit to Hargrove for a burning solo on “Hot House,” to Miller for his excellent keyboard contributions throughout and to the eternally youthful Moody, who’s still generating plenty of musical excitement at 81.