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Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy in South America Volume 3

What can you say about a two-CD set that has only 43 minutes of music? Before you call consumer protection, listen to the first four selections of Dizzy in South America Vol. 3 (CAP 935; 75:33, 72:33). This 1956 Dizzy Gillespie big band was recorded during one of its State Department tours, and it is likely the most exciting jazz orchestra to ever represent the U.S. abroad. One reason is the sheer number of great musicians on board, including Phil Woods, Benny Golson, Melba Liston, Quincy Jones, Walter Davis Jr. and, of course, the balloon-cheeked leader, who plays an absolutely astounding break, solo and coda on “A Night in Tunisia.” Another eyebrow raiser, “Cepao’s Samba,” finds Dizzy jamming with a samba group at the Hotel Gloria in Rio. It turns out that Cepao was the arranger at the local Brazilian TV station, and his orchestra of unidentified Cariocas plays a bebop arrangement in Dizzy’s style with batucada accompaniment. Opa! The set also includes new tango pieces recorded in Buenos Aires, including the popular “Adios Muchachos,” made famous by Carlos Gardel, and Osvaldo Fresedo’s “Vida Mia.” Unfortunately, that’s it for the music, as what follows are more than 100 minutes of recorded interviews with Dizzy, Quincy Jones, Phil Woods, Billy Mitchell, Charlie Persip, Benny Golson, Lalo Schifrin and others. You may only listen to the interviews once, but I bet you’ll revisit the “Samba” and “Night in Tunisia” over and over.

Originally Published