Uptown Records has announced the release of two new additions to its Flashback Series, featuring two of the jazz world’s most immortal figures: Charlie Parker, Washington, D.C., May 23, 1948 and Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, Showtime at the Spotlite.
The Parker, Washington release is from a live concert produced by Willis Conover, whose Voice of America broadcasts promoted good will and captivated millions of jazz fans all over the world for more than 40 years. The CD features the bebop segment of a concert entitled “Jam Session #3: Dixieland vs. Bebop,” a somewhat provocative title that, despite its inaccuracy in context, offers an interesting perspective on the aesthetic controversy existing within jazz at the time. This recording offers Parker accompanied by some of Washington’s finest local bop musicians and, most importantly and rewardingly, drummer Buddy Rich.
Parker (pictured) is featured on six of the eight tracks. A tiny humorous segment of Rich responding to the audience’s request for Gene Krupa hits offers a palpable sense of “being there” that adds to the CD’s charm. The opening track features the ensemble (without Parker and Rich) offering “Tiny’s Blues,” with Earl Swope on trombone, trumpeter Charlie Walp, tenorman Ben Lary, drummer Joe Theimer, Mert Oliver on bass and pianist Sam Krupit. That ensemble, with Rich and bassist Art Phipps instead, accompanies Parker on three tracks: “Bernie’s Tune,” “These Foolish Things” and “Scrapple from the Apple .” Two quartet performances follow: Parker’s “Ornithology” and his classic “KoKo,.”
A 52-page booklet, filled with more than three dozen photos and original posters, and extensive, informative essays by Ira Gitler, Ron Fritts and Ross Firestone, is included.
The Dizzy Gillespie Big Band CD captures the seminal days of Gillespie’s big band in mid-1946. The17-man ensemble is heard on 100+ minutes of music contained on two CDs.
An array of future heavyweights is on board, including Thelonious Monk, Ray Brown and Kenny Clarke as the rhythm section, along with Milt Jackson on vibes and longtime Gillespie tenor cohort James Moody. Most of the arrangements were provided by Gil Fuller, one of Jazz’ most notable and respected composer/arrangers. In addition to the groundbreaking Fuller/Gillespie composition “Things to Come,” selections include some of Gillespie’s most popular compositions, many of which remained longtime staples of not only Gillespie’s, but of the general contemporary Jazz repertoire: “Woody’n You,” “Shaw Nuff,” “One Bass Hit,” “Groovin’ High” and “Oo-Bop Sh’Bam” (the last two arranged by Gillespie). There is also a beautiful Fuller treatment of Monk’s gorgeous “‘Round Midnight” and two arrangements by Tadd Dameron of his own “Our Delight” and “Cool Breeze.”
Dave Burns, Elmon Wright, Johnny Lynch and Talib Dawud comprise the rest of the trumpet section; Slim Moore, Leon Comegys and Gordon Thomas are the trombonists; and the reed section includes Howard Johnson and John Brown on altos, tenorman Ray Abrams and Sol Moore on bari.