Oct 5, 2011

Dizzy Gillespie's Big 4 + Oscar Peterson & Dizzy Gillespie

barabara sounds sez:
I don't listen to bebop too much, never have.    
It's probably a generation thing – it was already over and passe by the time I discovered it. And 
I was probably taking the wrong drugs anyway.   That said, I've always had lots of time for Dizzy, especially the Cuban connection, plus he was such a great showman, though I only caught him in the 70s. Though it was rather past the peak of his prime, he'd no way lost  his amazing chops. Just check out the tempo of some of the tracks on this excellent side from 1974 on Pablo, especially the tour de force that is Bebop (Dizzy's FIngers) which opens side 2. Bravissimo!

And then there was the album he recorded the same year in London with Oscar Peterson, also for Pablo. The pianist got the top billing (it was part of a series of duo sessions with trumpeters he did for the label). But there's no way Dizzy takes second place here. Just the one track this time, but it's a classic: you just can't beat it!

someone else (unattributed) sez [on DG Big 4]:
…superb production values, dynamic acoustic sound, and generally provocative mix of players and musical materials. Dizzy's Big 4 is one of the very best, featuring a dream team rhythm section that responds to all of Gillespie's virtuoso challenges, and then some. Ray Brown is one of the all-time greats, who startled the jazz world when he first emerged as Dizzy's bassist while   still in his teens; drummer Mickey Roker is a commanding percussionist and long-time Gillespie collaborator, while guitarist Joe Pass is a stellar virtuoso, with a series of excellent recitals of his own on Pablo.

Gillespie is in a particularly puckish mood on these sessions. Where the youthful Gillespie might have ordinarily opted for more of the bravura pyrotechnics, represented here by the relentlessly uptempo changes of "Be Bop (Dizzy's Fingers)", Dizzy's Big 4 is distinguished by the ballads "Hurry Home," "Russian Lullaby" and "September Song." Here the trumpeter's rich timbral shadings plumb deep new meaning from these familiar melodies. Most impressive is Dizzy's depth and range as a blues player, which further enlivens his improvisations on Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz," his own latin styled funk on "Frelimo" and the hard bopping "Birks Works." 

jazz.com (Mark Longman) sez [on OC&DG]: 
On Gillespie's second recording for Norman Granz's Pablo label, he joins Oscar Peterson for a set of miraculous duets. Benny Green, who wrote the liner notes for this album, compared this performance of Ellington's classic composition to the Armstrong and Hines rendition of "Weather Bird." Peterson melds a keen sense for complementary accompaniment with dexterous, interweaving polyphonic lines. The breakneck tempo does little to deter Gillespie, who navigates an unaccompanied section without wavering in the slightest. Both musicians bring their best to this date: both show incredible range, flexibility, and complete mastery of their instruments. The result is a well-worn standard transformed through harmonic freshness and rhythmic vitality into an iconic performance.


Anonymous said...

just as soon as mf sorts itself out...

Anonymous said...

here we go...


OP&DG: Caravan

dewhy said...

Ah, Pablo. My least favorite label. Granz was a non-producer. Most recordings sound like jams, flubs left in, solos starting late because the player didn't catch the eyeball cue. Even these geniuses sound best when well rehearsed. Compare an album by the same artist on the MPS label. Night and day.
Music tended to be better when the players and engineers alike wore suits & ties to the studio, just look at these slobs on the cover, Granz was sure trying to impress us with his "product"(?) Think "Kinda Blue" would have had the same impact if Miles looked like a dork on the cover? Maybe.

Maybe you would like bop better if you deleted the pablo & verve catalogue from your hard drive.

Kudos on a very fetching blog overall, and thank you for your time and effort on this.

taro nombei said...

@ dewhy
What a brilliant righteous rant!
That's a blanket statement that many might dispute — but you've certainly set your stall our there.

Anyone else like to drop their two, or two hundred, cents on Pablo as a label, Granz as a producer, and the artists – or at least the ones wearing turtle necks or flowery shirts?


charlie said...

Miles made plenty of great records dressing how he liked so I think there's a bit more to it than that.

taro nombei said...

@ charlie
and it's not as if Miles never flubbed a note (on record or on stage) either — though he almost always managed to make them sound 'right'...