10-25-2016  6:43 am      •     
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Jazz Icons DVD

This is absolutely the finest jazz video of a legendary jazz musician one could hope to view.
Naturally it's in living black and white, since it was filmed in 1958 and 1970. But, the video is crisp and the sound is fabulous — unlike many other videos of the same vintage — and it is all in sync.
Viewers are fortunate because Gillespie performs in two contexts. The first, set in 1958, takes place on a concert stage in Belgium with his quintet. But not just any quintet — he is joined on stage by saxophonist Sonny Stitt, who is heard on tenor and alto; pianist Lou Levy; bassist Ray Brown; and drummer Gus Johnson.
Although it was recorded in 1958, the music is as fresh as tomorrow. Opening with "Blues After Dark," Gillespie blows strenuously through a mute. Stitt follows with a strong hearing on tenor. Gillespie and Stitt exhibit their combined senses of humor with their vocal delivery of "On the Sunny Side of the Street."
Stitt takes the solo stage on alto with "Loverman," an intricate interpretation I wish could have gone on at least twice as long. Gillespie is alone on "Cocktails For Two," with just a single magnificent chorus. "Blues Walk" closes out the set with Stitt back on tenor for a rousing end to a landmark performance.
Gillespie's next stop is Denmark, where he fronts the Francy Boland-Kenny Clarke big band. They kick it off with Gillespie's "Con Alma," which is replete with cha-cha rhythms and tango elements. Two drummers add strength to the pulse — one, Kenny Clare, is pounding away on snare, bass and cymbal while co-leader Kenny Clarke is using a cow bell.
"Manteca" gets an all too brief exposure, but multiple explosions occur when they move on to "Things are Here." The 16 pieces become fully mobilized, and they attack the chart with power and brilliance reminiscent of Gillespie's early 1940s bebop big bands. This is solid end to end.


Newly re-mastered tracks can and often do reveal treasures perhaps overlooked the first time around.
There is at least one such track on this epic recording from 1956 by Richard "Groove" Holmes. In the public's mad rush to hear and play Holmes' monster hit, "Misty," another, more gentle tune could easily have been passed over. "The Things We Did Last Summer," already a pop hit, takes on a new shiny luster as Holmes transforms it into the jazz ballad category. Gene Edward's beautiful guitar is key to this transformation.
The swinging "Groove's Groove" is the opener. Also included is the first cover of Horace Silver's "Song For My Father." Hats off to Rudy Van Gelder, the original engineer, who did the re-mastering this year.


Somehow, saxophonist Oliver Nelson is able to transmit a certain vocal quality in his blues solos, so that his horn literally sings the blues.
The track "Screamin' the Blues" will hook the listener with its first two or three bars. Nelson's tenor soars and swoops with the high-energy blues attack. Pianist Richard Wyands bridges between Nelson and Eric Dolphy, heard on bass clarinet.
"The Drive," a nice up-tempo bop piece, begins with Nelson on tenor. Trumpeter Richard Williams uses his own "singing" brass tones in bold fashion. There is also the requisite nod to gospel with "The Meetin'." Williams again is outstanding over the rhythm work of bassist George Duvivier and drummer Roy Haynes.

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