Dizzy Gillespie: Live at the Royal Festival Hall, London 1987

COMPOSERS: Dizzy Gillespie,Various
LABELS: BBC Jazz Legends
PERFORMER: Dizzy Gillespie (t, v); with 19-piece 70th Anniversary Big Band
CATALOGUE NO: BBCJ 7002-2

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These BBC recordings of London concerts by three legendary bandleaders are most welcome. I attended the Gillespie concert and enjoyed it immensely. It was a genial, retrospective affair with excellent arrangements of famous Gillespie compositions, including ‘Manteca’ and ‘Night in Tunisia’, and of the standard ‘Lover Come Back to Me’and Monk’s ‘Round Midnight’.

His 70th birthday big band included several jazz stars, some mature such as trombonist Britt Woodman and saxophonist Sam Rivers, others younger like the 19-year-old Finnish alto sax star Jukka Perko, tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore and Gillespie’s alter ego, trumpet virtuoso John Faddis, all of whom were given solo space.

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Age had curtailed Gillespie’s dramatic virtuosity, but he still played with immense warmth and swing, his presence inspiring the brilliantly talented band, and in any event, Faddis could provide the trumpet fireworks.