Music Reviews

Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band

Things To Come


Two things I despise more than anything are biters and jock riders. Both phenomena are generally talentless hacks trying to cash in on the talent and fame of greater artists – like Warren G. always mentioning Snoop on all of his ill-fated projects. The worst of these, though, have to be the ones who ride the jock of a corpse. It seems, to me, the most tasteless of exploitation because the dead has no say in the matter (which is probably why I’ll never like Puffy). So, when this disc came my way, I was dead-set ready to hate it. I just kept thinking of Duke and Count and how their “bands” functioned long after they were cold and wanted to weep.

(Un)Fortunately, I can’t hate this alumni band nor its project. One, greatness attracts greatness, and M. Gillespie attracted the greatest. While most of his fellow legends are gone as well, there are some utterly fantastic musicians assembled here: Jon Faddis, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Antonio Hart (who blazes on his tenor sax), Slide Hampton, and Renee Rosnes (who tickles the keys into paroxysms of sheer beauty). Two, all the proceeds are going to a good cause, the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a Pittsburgh arts and learning center. And, three, these folks swing with the best of them, raging like a Colorado wildfire. This is a pyrotechnically good time for any fan of the Big Band era that smolders, burns, and explodes with the mastery of these modern-day jazz maestros. Check out the title track, “Manteca,” and “A Night in Tunisia.”

Telarc: Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild:

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