Dizzy Gillespie: Bird Songs

Dizzy Gillespie; a program of Charlie Parker lines…what more information do you need? Represented as The Final Recordings, these are more good sounds joyfully rendered from that storied 75th birthday celebration at the Blue Note in New York. Guests include an awesome lineup of saxmen: Pacquito D’Rivera, Benny Golson, Antonio Hart, Clifford Jordan, Jackie McLean, and David Sanchez; with Bobby McFerrin occasionally weaving some scat around all those sax lines, buoyed by the rhythm section of pianist Danilo Perez, alternating drummers Lewis Nash and Kenny Washington, and bassist George Mraz.

While the boss’ chops were diminished with advancing age (you try playing bravura trumpet at 50, much less 75!), one still hears the cunning of the wily veteran compensating for aged muscles by investing each line with the knowledge of a million bandstands. Dizzy’s opening statement on “Con Alma,” with mere piano accompaniment, beautifully exemplifies this senior grand mastery. Largely because of the joy of Dizzy’s company, there’s a kind of palpable warmth and love here, coupled with the loose-limbed swing of the classic jam session. Yes indeed, this certainly belongs in your Dizzy collection.

Willard Jenkins

Willard Jenkins has covered jazz artists, performances, and the jazz infrastructure since his early-’70s undergrad days writing for The Black Watch student newspaper at Kent State University. Additionally, he has been a jazz broadcaster since 1973— currently programming at WPFW in Washington, D.C.—and a jazz concerts and festivals presenter since 1978. He currently serves as artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival and artistic director of jazz programming at Tribeca Performing Arts Center (NYC). A founding member of the Jazz Journalists Association, he is also a recipient of its Lifetime Achievement award.