Dizzy Gillespie

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In the Beginning

This is an album of bebop masterpieces which anyone into modern jazz should know. There are too many highlights to discuss individually here, but most involve either the genius of Charlie Parker, whose solos on these recordings have been analysed and imitated ever since, or the exuberant and ecstatic Dizzy; check out his virtuosic solo break on ‘One bass hit, part 1’. This was the birth of a new music, and many of its key players were there, including Bud Powell, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, and Sarah Vaughan. But obscure figures also turn in excellent performances, such as Alice Roberts’ cute vocal on ‘He beeped when he shoulda bopped’, and Jimmy Oliver’s kicking tenor solo on ‘She’s gone again’ from a later session which fits in nicely. The critics’ view that the use of swing drummers Big Sid Catlett and Cozy Cole detracts from these performances strikes me as odd: who would want to change this music?