DIZZY GILLESPIE — Dizzy Gillespie And His Orchestra : Gillespiana (review)

DIZZY GILLESPIE — Dizzy Gillespie And His Orchestra : Gillespiana album cover Album · 1960 · Progressive Big Band Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Rexorcist
I am severely uneducated in oldschool bebop. I've heard some of the greats, Milt Jackson, Gillespie, Powell, but not enough to really be impressed with myself. Even after having heard 13,000 albums, one still has a lot to learn if those 13,000 are spent on other genres, even if it means other jazz genres. I wanted a bebop album that would blow me away and be unlike anything I'd ever heard before. So I stumbled upon an album tagged as big band bebop with an Afro-Cuban touch.

I initially thought that the album might just be five overly catchy big band songs with minimal Afro-Cuban elements in comparison to its stellar first track, but I was proven wrong very quickly. Each oldschool song had its own signature sound about it. After Prelude was Blues, a constantly progressing blues jazz track with one of Gillespie's coolest moods ever recorded never cracking under the process of evolution. Afterwords is a five-minute track that reaches levels of hyperactivity that combines with the first track but also separates itself through bebop insanity.

Next is the very 50's Africana, which goes so tribal that it feels like piece included in a classic jungle adventure movie. Our final track, Toccata. It goes back to the bebop energy of tracks one and three, but there's a highly-adventurous and somewhat dramatic feel about it, combining with Africana's adventure movie vibe but with its own fight-scene flair. You can almost expect Errol Flynn to pop out with a sword and start swinging on vines and slashing at poachers. We get the whole collective of vibes here from the adventure to the tension to the festivity.

I was more than satisfied with the inventiveness and spirit of this album. I always prefer more inventive albums to more typical ones, even when the typical ones are raw classics, like how I prefer Dr. Feelgood to Shout at the Devil, or how I prefer Pharoah Sanders to John Coltrane. Gillespiana is bebop's testament to creativity. It might not be the best gateway album into bebop, but it makes for an excellent gateway into the many capabilities of jazz itself.
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