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Portland Jazz Festival: A Celebration of ECM

Dizzy Reece

Although Dizzy Reece has been living in New York since 1959, he has worked so infrequently in recent years that many jazz fans thought he had passed away. Friday, January 5, 2007 was the trumpet legend’s 76th birthday and he marked the occasion by making a rare appearance at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan.

Reece, who was born in Jamaica in 1931, moved to London in 1948 and quickly became a star on the emerging British modern jazz scene. His early recordings in England already showed him to be an original voice on his instrument, as well as an emerging composer and arranger of note. While firmly rooted in the bebop tradition, Reece cultivated a big, brassy sound that harkened back to an earlier era, evoking the work of early idols Louis Armstrong and Buck Clayton. He soon caught the ear of American musicians like Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins and was signed by Blue Note Records. His first release for the label, Blues in Trinity, was recorded in 1958 while the trumpeter was still living in London. Reece’s move to New York in 1959 was greeted with fanfare, and he recorded in quick succession two more critically acclaimed albums for Blue Note (Star Bright and Soundin’ Off) and one for Prestige (Asia Minor). (All of Reece’s classic Blue Note work has been assembled in a Mosaic Select box set.)

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