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The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars: Dizzy’s 80th Birthday Party

Produced by electric bassist John Lee, this CD quite naturally casts Gillespie protege Jon Faddis in the role of his mentor on 13 tunes by or associated with the late trumpeter. It’s as instructive to hear these tunes all in one place as it is to hear Faddis and the other All-Stars play. We are reminded that Gillespie, in addition to bebop burners such as “Salt Peanuts” and “Bebop,” also wrote Latin jazz tunes with a wonderful personal touch: “Fiesta Mojo,” “Manteca” and “Con Alma.”

Besides Faddis’ pyrotechnical skills, this album features a pot-boiling rhythm section (as befits Gillespie himself): Lee, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, drummer Ignacio Berroa, percussionist Duduka Da Fonesca and conga drummer Gabriel Machado. Alto saxophonist Antonio Hart is Bird to Faddis’ Dizzy; and tenor saxophonist Andres Boiarsky is his James Moody. Chestnut, who grows more impressive with each hearing, finds fresh things to say on these oft-heard tunes. Faddis’ dazzling high-note work and wheeling Gillespie-isms ARE spectacular, but his cooler exposition of the melody on “Brother K,” “Fiesta Mojo,” et al. is just as satisfying.

Originally Published