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ClassicsOnline Home » GILLESPIE, Dizzy: Groovin' High (1942-1949)
By Kenny Weir
Sunday Herald Sun (Australia)
DIZZY Gillespie -- brilliant trumpeter, post-war jazz pioneer and all-round musical good guy -- has been ill-served in terms of the sort of lavish retrospective packages being accorded even minor stars of the jazz world.
When it comes to Gillespie's early years, however, this budget-priced compilation does a good single-disc job. It features a couple of early 1940s tracks with the orchestras of Lucky Millander and Boyd Raeburn, including A Night in Tunisia and several of the explosive big-band sides Gillespie recorded for RCA.
Best of all, for be-bop fans, are the classic small group sides that make up the rest of the disc, with such luminaries as Shelley Manne, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, Al Haig, Milt Jackson and Lucky Thompson on board and on fire."
"Groovin High" Original Recordings 1942-1949
"Progressive jazz or bop was a new version of old things, a theory of chords and so on
Bird was responsible for the actual playing of it and Dizzy put it down
Bird would play (he was so spontaneous)
But Diz would sit there, and whatever he played, he knew just what he was doing. It was a pattern, a thing that had been studied" Billy Eckstine
A colossus among jazz innovators and, with his rough, pugnacious manner and irrepressible (often self-debunking) sense of humour one of its most colourful characters, bandleader, composer, would-be conga-drummer, vocalist and pianist-arranger, Dizzy Gillespie was after Louis Armstrong the single most influential trumpeter in jazz history. Alongside Charlie Parker a prime mover in the emergence of bop, he became its most far out exponent, conferring upon the revolutionary new form (via a mesmerising combination of showmanship and organisational skill) a veneer of respectability in the eyes of the trad purists.
Dizzy was born John Birks Gillespie, the last of nine children, into a modest family background in Cheraw, South Carolina, on October 21, 1917. His, a bricklayer, also ran a band in his spare time and the regular presence of instruments and their players in the Gillespie household fired young Dizzys musical imagination. Not long after his father died, in 1927, he was already musically proficient enough to win a scholarship to the North Carolina Negro Industrial School (aka the Laurinburg Institute) to study theory and harmony. His first instrument was the trombone but, by the age of fifteen, he was also playing trumpet, although he apparently never "studied" either in a formal sense.
In 1935, at eighteen, Dizzy moved with his family to Philadelphia and from then on gained experience and made a name for himself as a sideman in big bands between 1936 and 1943, gradually forging a new style which would alter the course of jazz history. In Philadelphia, this intelligent, self-educated but unquestionably rowdy country youth found work first in local bands, including that of Frank Fairfax, where his fellow-trumpeters included Charlie Shavers and Carl Bama Warwick. In 1936, with one ear inclined to the NBCs radio broadcasts of Teddy Hills band from the Harlem Savoy Ballroom, he avidly followed the fluent playing of his idol, Hills star trumpet Roy Eldridge (1911-1989). In 1937, having already transferred to New York, he auditioned successfully for the place Eldridge had vacated in Hills outfit and, by mid-year, had toured France and Great Britain and made his first records with the band (for RCA Victor) in New York.
Dizzy freelanced with several New York groups, such as Al Coopers Savoy Sultans and Alberto Socarras Afro-Cuban band before briefly rejoining Hill and working (and recording) with Lionel Hampton, in 1939. From later that year until 1941, Dizzy the future Clown Prince of Bebop was a prominent, if consistently wild, member of Cab Calloways band. A much-prized sideman, he there first indulged his interest in Afro-Cuban music (until, after many a stunt, he was finally fired by Calloway for allegedly throwing a spitball). During the next couple of years he worked brief stints with various bands, including Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet, Les Hite, Lucky Millinder (1900-1966), Duke Ellington and, most notably, that of Earl Hines (1903-1983), the "virtual nursery of bop" where his colleagues included Parker, Billy Eckstine and the latters "discovery", Sarah Vaughan. Dizzys four July 1942 titles with Millinders Savoy Ballroom outfit constitute significant strides in the evolution of the bop style. Little John Special, is especially interesting in that it offers a fully-fledged bop solo in a swing-band context. Dizzys solo is followed by a riff for full ensemble which he later elaborated into Salt Peanuts (and in 1944 recorded in one of the first small-group bop recordings).
Around this time Gillespie first recorded with Parker and also jived and recorded in groups led by tenor (and bass) saxophonist and ex-commercial bandleader Boyd Raeburn (1913-1966) and clarinettist Joe Marsala (1907-1978). During 1944, Raeburn formed the first of various jazz groups in whose ranks were arrayed the leading bop musicians of the day; Gillespies notable arrangements for him include this version of A Night In Tunisia, realised in conjunction with Frank Paparelli.
During 1944, Diz worked as trumpeter-arranger with Eckstines revolutionary if short-lived big-band (a departure which proved another step up the ladder of bebop) and in 1945 formed his own ill-fated big band, the All-Stars (tracks 3-6). When this latter venture failed financially, he focused on the small combos he had run simultaneously (at first a quintet, later a sextet and a septet) ad hoc groups usually comprising Parker, Al Haig, Milt Jackson and other modernists. By 1945 his list of compositions, which already read like a bop inventory, included such titles as Groovin High, Blue n Boogie (another collaboration with Paparelli) and Shaw Nuff and between 1946 to 1950, the bluff, rough-hewed master-trumpeter fronted another, more definitive avant-garde big-band and emerged fully-fledged as the organiser and think-tank of the modern jazz revolution. From its inception innovative in its scope, this more streamlined outfit won even greater global renown following a Scandinavian tour in 1948. It benefited from a sympathetic team of arrangers Tadd Dameron, Gil Fuller, John Lewis and George Russell and with the ad hoc addition of congas and bongos (notably, Chano Pozo, Sabú Martínez and Vince Guerra) to his rhythm section, Gillespie could at last give free rein to some interesting, if premeditated, Afro-Cuban rhythms which expanded the horizon of bebop from small combo to big band via a succession of exotically-titled pieces,including Guarachi Guaro and Things To Come.
Peter Dempsey, 2001
1 . LITTLE JOHN SPECIAL (Millinder)
Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra
(Brunswick 03406; mx 71246A) Recorded 29th July, 1942 3:02
2 . INTERLUDE (A NIGHT IN TUNISIA) (GillespiePaparelli)
Boyd Raeburn and His Orchestra
(Guild 107; mx 542) Recorded January, 1945 3:08
3 . BE-BOP (Gillespie)
Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars
(Manor 5000; mx W 1225) Recorded 9th January, 1945 3:07
4 . GOOD BAIT (DameronBasie)
(Manor 1042; mx W 1223) Recorded 9th January, 1945 2:58
5 . I CANT GET STARTED (DukeI.Gershwin)
(Manor 1042; mx W 1222) Recorded 9th January, 1945 3:04
6 . SALT PEANUTS (GillespieClarke)
(Manor 5000; mx W 1225) Recorded 9th January, 1945 2:58
7 . CHEROKEE (Noble)
Joe Marsala Sextet
(Black & White 18; mx BW 74) Recorded 12th January, 1945 2:50
8 . GROOVIN HIGH (GillespiePaparelli)
Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Sextette
(Guild 1001; mx G-554-A) Recorded 28th February, 1945 2:41
9 . BLUE N BOOGIE (Gillespie)
Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra
(Guild 1001; mx G-555-B) Recorded 9th February, 1945 2:57
10 . SHAW NUFF (ParkerGillespie)
Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Quintette
(Guild 1002; mx G-566-A1) Recorded 11th May, 1945 3:00
11 . OL MAN REBOP (Floyd Wilson)
Dizzy Gillespie Septet
(RCA Victor 40-0132; mx D6-VB-1684) Recorded 22nd February, 1946 2:42
12 . EMANON (GillespieShaw)
(Musicraft 447; mx 5789) Recorded 12th November, 1946 3:05
13 . OOPAPADA (GillespieBrown)
Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra; vocal by Dizzy Gillespie, Kenneth Hagood & Ensemble
(RCA Victor 20-2480; mx D7-VB-1543) Recorded 22nd August, 1947 3:10
14 . LOVER COME BACK TO ME (RombergHammerstein II)
(RCA Victor 20-3370; mx D8-VB-4150-1) Recorded 29th Dcember, 1948 3:29
15 . GUARACHI GUARO (Gillespie, arr. Gerald Wilson)
Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra; vocal by Sabu Martinez and the Band
(RCA Victor 20-3370; mx D8-VB-4148-1) Recorded 29th December, 1948 3:09
16 . IN THE LAND OF OO-BLA-DEE (WilliamsOrent)
Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra; vocal by Joe Carroll
(RCA Victor 20-3538; mx D9-V8-1796-1) Recorded 6th July, 1949 2:34
17 . ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT (MonkWilliams)
Tempo Jazz Men
(Dial 1003; mx D 1005A) Recorded 7th February, 1946 2:45
18 . THINGS TO COME (FullerGillespie)
Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra; featuring Milt Jackson on the vibraharp
(Musicraft 447; mx 5611) Recorded 9th July, 1946 2:45
All tracks recorded in New York except track 17, recorded in Hollywood.
Transfers and Production by David Lennick. Digital Noise Reduction by Graham Newton
Photograph of Dizzy Gillespie, c.1945, © Hulton/Archive
29th July, 1942: LUCKY MILLINDER & HIS ORCHESTRA: William Scott, Dizzy Gillespie, Nelson Bryant, trumpets; George Stevenson, Joe Britton, trombones; Billy Bowen, Tab S m i t h, alto sax; Stafford Simon, Dave Young, tenor sax; Ernest Purce, baritone sax; Bill Doggett, piano; Trevor Bacon, guitar; Nick Fenton, bass; Panama Francis, drums
January, 1945: BOYD RAEBURN & HIS ORCHESTRA: Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Fishelson, Tommy Allison, Benny Harris, trumpets; Ollie Wilson, Jack Carmen, Walt Robertson, Trummy Young, trombones; Johnny Bothwell, Hal McKusick, alto sax; Joe Magro, Al Cohn, tenor sax; Serge Chaloff, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Boyd Raeburn, bass sax; Ike Carpenter, piano; Steve Jordan, guitar; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Shelley Manne, drums
9th January, 1945: Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet, vocal; Trummy Young, trombone; Don Byas, tenor sax; Clyde Hart, piano; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Shelley Manne, drums
12th January, 1945: Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet; Joe Marsala, clarinet; Cliff Jackson, piano;
Chuck Wayne, guitar; Irv Lang, bass; Buddy Christian, drums
9th February, 1945: Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet; Dexter Gordon, tenor sax; Frank Paparelli,
piano; Chuck Wayne, guitar; Murray Shipinsky, bass; Shelley Manne, drums
28th February, 1945: Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet; Charlie Parker, alto sax; Clyde Hart, piano; Remo Palmieri, guitar; Slam Stewart, bass; Cozy Cole, drums
11th May, 1945: Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet; Charlie Parker, alto sax; Curley Russell, piano; Al Haig, bass; Sid Catlett, drums
7th February, 1946: Dizzy Gillespie (as "Gabriel"), trumpet; Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Al Haig, piano; Milt Jackson, vibes; Ray Brown, bass; Sam Levey, drums
22th February, 1946: Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet; Don Byas, tenor sax; Al Haig, piano; Milt Jackson, vibes; Bill De Arango, guitar; Ray Brown, bass; J. C. Heard, drums
9th July, 1946: Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Burns, Raymond Orr, Talib Daawood, John Lynch, trumpets; Alton Moore, Leon Cormenge, Gordon Thomas, trombones; Howard Johnson, Lucky Warren, Ray Abrams, John Brown, Saul Moore, saxophones; John Lewis, piano; Ray Brown, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums
12th November, 1946: Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Burns, Matthew McKay, Elmon Wright, John Lynch, trumpets; Alton Moore, Taswell Baird, Gordon Thomas, trombones; Scoops Carey, Lucky Warren, Billy Frazier, John Brown, Saul Moore, saxophones; John Lewis, piano; Ray Brown, bass; Joe Harris, drums
22nd August, 1947: Dizzy Gillespie, Elmon Wright, Dave Burns, Matthew McKay, trumpets; William Shepherd, Ted Kelly, trombones; Howard Johnson, John Brown, alto sax; Joe Gayles, George Nicholas, James Moody, tenor sax; Cecil Payne, bass sax; John Lewis, piano; Al McKibbon, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums; Chano Pozo, conga drum; Kenneth Hagood, vocal
29th December, 1948: Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Burns, Willie Cook, Elmon Wright, trumpets; Andy Duryea, Samuel Hurt, Rip Tarrant, trombones; John Brown, Ernie Henry, alto sax; Joe Gayles, Budd Johnson, tenor sax; Cecil Payne, bass sax; James Forman, piano, celeste; Alfred McKibbon, bass; Teddy Stewart, drums; Sabu Martinez, bongos, vocal; Joe Harris, conga drum
6th July, 1949: Dizzy Gillespie, Willie Cook, Benny Harris, Elmon Wright, trumpets; Andy Duryea, Jay Jay Johnson, Charles Greenlee, trombones; John Brown, Ernie Henry, alto sax; Joe Gayles, Yusef Lateef, tenor sax; Alfred Gibson, bass sax; James Forman, piano, celeste; Alfred McKibbon, bass; Teddy Stewart, drums; Vince Guerra, conga drum; Joe Carroll, vocal
The Naxos Historical labels aim to make available the greatest recordings of the history of recorded music, in the best and truest sound that contemporary technology can provide. To achieve this aim, Naxos has engaged a number of respected restorers who have the dedication, skill and experience to produce restorations that have set new standards in the field of historical recordings.
As a producer of CD reissues, David Lennicks work in this field grew directly from his own needs as a broadcaster specializing in vintage material and the need to make it listenable while being transmitted through equalizers, compressors and the inherent limitations of A.M. radio. Equally at home in classical, pop, jazz and nostalgia, Lennick describes himself as exercising as much control as possible on the final product, in conjunction with CEDAR noise reduction applied by Graham Newton in Toronto. As both broadcaster and re-issue producer, he relies on his own extensive collection as well as those made available to him by private collectors, the University of Toronto, the International Piano Archives at Maryland, Syracuse University and others.
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GILLESPIE, Dizzy: Groovin' High (1942-1949)