IT’S BEEN A DIZZYING FINAL QUARTER:  personal friends Dave Brubeck and Pete LaRoca Sims both passed…  the Sandy and Newtown, Conn. disasters cast a pall.  but as a British comedy troupe sang “always look on the bright side”… Dizzy Gillespie would have turned 95 in 2012.  we celebrated him in myriad ways all over town… our grandson made Bar Mitzvah in the Orlando area… we discovered that Louis Armstrong did indeed sire a child, a daughter, who happens to be the wife of a friend of mine, and a former drummer, for over a half century.  and it’s been kept from us for all these years.  the daughter, Sharon Preston-Folta, has written an e-book, available on Kindle and from  more in 2013.

DIZZY @ 95

speaking of secrets, one of the best kept jazz venue secrets in NYC is Mike and Dottie Longo‘s Jazz Tuesday’s at the New York Baha’i Center –more on that next year, their 10th– which presents jazz groups some experimental, always exploratory, premiered Mike’s latest CD (CAP) saluting and celebrating both Diz and Miles Davis.  the CD, recorded live at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium at the New York Baha’i Center, “A Celebration of Dizzy and Miles,” contains selections from the trumpeters’ books including Gillespie’s Con Alma, Ow, Here ‘Tiz, Tour de Force and A Night In Tunisia.  the Milesian inclusions are All Blues, Milestones, Freddie Freeloader, Summertime, You Don’t Know What Love Is and So What.  Mike’s accompaniment are Paul West, bass, and Ray Mosca, drums.

the CD is a fine example of what happens there every Tuesday night for two sets.  Longo himself has three (3) bands: his trio, big band, The New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble, and a pared down funk band with some added electronics.  all have CDs available on Longo’s own CAP label.  (  Dizzy Gillespie was Baha’i as are Mike & Dottie Longo.

Longo, a friend of and longtime musical director for Gillespie earlier issued a  CD entitled “We Miss You John” (CAP) when the trumpet master passed.  each year at Gillespie’s birthday Longo showcases his New York State of  the Art Jazz Ensemble (16 pieces) to play a long set followed by a video.  this CD release party was a bonus.  look for a profile of Longo in JazzTimes.

Jon Faddis was guest soloist at the Manhattan School of Music celebrating their continuing 30th Anny of MSM Jazz.  (see last month’s blog.)  entitled “Dizzy Atmosphere: The Big Band Music of Dizzy Gillespie,” the challenging program of a dozen transcriptions of big band favs written by or associated with Gillespie were enthusiastically performed by the constantly and always surprising screaming all student MSM Jazz Band under Justin DiCioccio’s direction.  various composers and arrangers were included: Tadd Dameron (Good Bait), Mary Lou Williams (In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee), John Lewis/Gil Fuller/Ray Brown (One Bass Hit and Two Bass Hit),  Brown and Fuller (Ray’s Idea).  Faddis, when not called upon to solo, as in the Gillespie/Fuller Tin Tin Deo, was excitedly setting up the under-the-solo riffing.  you could see how relaxed he was having played his mentor’s music for decades, i would say with complete confidence, virtually all his life

Gillespie’s own 0op Bop Sh’Bam found a vocalization by trumpeter Ben Benack.  other familiar Dizzy tunes included A Night In Tunisia, and a boisterous Things To Come.  Manteca is of particular interest.  written with Cuban congero Chano Pozo, Diz loved to tell the story of how Chano who  could speak no English and Diz no Spanish communicated.  Diz would say,”boom bink, boom bink” sounding like a conga drum.  ”i only wrote the bridge,” he confessed.  the original arranger was Fuller.  in this case DiCioccio.

Faddis later appeared in lec-dem format at New Jersey City University’s new series entitled “2-on-1.”  co-hosted by Prof. Richard Lowenthal and your blogmeister, the idea is to bring in jazz practitioners to talk about their art and how they do it, not unlike my Jazz Insightsⓡ course at the New School.

and finally in this cursory birthday fete of Dizzy’s Faddis made an appearance with the Barcelona Jazz Orchestra fittingly at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  along with Frank Wess, and Phil Woods they sat in with this fine band which has been in existence since 1996.  why we don’t hear more from them i can’t understand.  this is a hot yet introspective ensemble with fine soloists.  bring ‘em back!

Faddis’ contributions included Tin Tin Deo, and Whisper Not.  Wess played the beautiful ballad, The Very Thought of You, on flute.  gorgeous and sumptuous.  then Sleepy Time Down South, on tenor.  Woods added My Man Benny for his idol Benny Carter, then Carter’s Sunset Glow.  Woods’ sensuousness still has the power to send chills down me.  the three kicked it up a notch with some musical cayenne pepper on Groovin’ High.

links of interest:

Mike                                           ;


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ⓒ arnold jay smith

December 2012






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