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Dizzy Gillespie: Matrix

Dizzy Gillespie’s Matrix (Castle Music) is a two-CD reissue that compiles three obscure Gillespie titles recorded for the Perception label in the early 1970s: an embarrassing The Real Thing, the hip Portrait of Jenny and a flawed but fascinating Giants.

The Real Thing is all fuzzy distorted guitar, chunka-chunka rhythms and soul, rock and funk cliches. There are a number of good players here, including James Moody, Eric Gale, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and Mike Longo, but they seem buried in the contrived, period setting. Gillespie always sounds good, even when mired in the muck. He was clearly trying for a hit record here, but what are we to make of a trifle like “High on a Cloud,” or the pseudo-rock number “Ding-a-Ling”? There’s an unintentionally funny Gillespie vocal on “Closer” that ought to prompt some boomers to rummage through the attic to dig out their hippy love beads and stovepipe pants. It’s an awful tune, but I found it oddly irresistible and hummed it much of the day after listening. Hip-hop beatologists might recognize the funky rhythm from “Matrix” since the Beatnuts sampled it for their tune “World Famous.”

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