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Dizzy Gillespie

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On January 24 and 25 Mbu s Showcase: Jazz presented the Dizzy Gillespie Quartet at McDonald Kiva, a small auditorium on the MSU campus in Kast Lansing. The late show Saturday night, upon which this review is based, opened with guitarist Spencer Barefield, a member of MSU's Creative Arts Collective, playing an amplified acoustic 6-string guitar. Barefield performed several songs in which he would generally focus on a scale, explore its vaiious sounds in a symmetrical sequence, and move to another scale. It wás an interesling set, marred only by Barefielti's apparent disdain and disregard for his audience. On the other hand, Dizzy Gillespie is very much aware of his audience-1 have seen him when he was more aware of his audience than of his music, in fact. But Diz was in excellent fprrrï lor liis MSÜ engagement. He opened with sonie clowning on congas, his second instrument, as the rest of his currcnt quartet joined him on ' stage to explore a standard, humorous riff which Dizzy called "Diddy Wah Diddy." The audience loved it, applauding Diz's every raise of Ihe eyebrows. Gillespie introduced the second number with a short speech in which he reflected on his belief in the Bahai religión and explained that he had named the piece for an African friend, "Olinga." This is one of my favorite Gillespie tunes, and the group gave it an excellent rendering, particularly guitarist Al Gaffa, an intelligent player who is sadly overlooked in today's jazz scène. Diz introduced the next number as a bailad he would sing for the excited audience, and the band launched into the bebop anthem "Salt Peanuts," a cómica! composition made popular by Bird and Diz in the 40's. A showcase for Dizzy's lightning fingers, "Peanuts" showed off Gaffa and percussionist Mickey Roker as well. Gaffa wrote the next selection, which Dizzy introduced as "Damn Baby, You Know I Love You (Bossa Loma)," a bossa nova spotlighting a muted Diz and, of course, composer Gaffa. Gillespie then demonstrated his incredible scat-singing approach on an extended intro A w toa _fl 1 piece which proved to be Gershwin's classic "Summertime," taken up-tempo and featuring Diz's muted trumpet, congas, and more of his irrcpressible scnt vocal work. The final number was preceded by a long, humorous story about Dizzy'skidnappmg in France by gypsies which ted into "Ole," a Spanish-influenced song which got the crowd clapping along in time. The bandlct't the stage to a standing ovation and shouts of "Encoré!" Dizzy returned, passed out apples to the audience, and left for the evening. The whole show was smoothly produced by Showcase: Jazz; the sound was goed, although Earl May's electric baSs was u little muddy, and Gillespie played beautifully throughout the concert, switching evenly between open and muted trumpet. The crowd had seemed to come for Dizzy Gillespie 's name, but they left with an apprcciation of the greatest trumpet player in jazz. Catch him if you can.