Thursday, June 26, 2008

Music: The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band at the Blue Note

Though I have always been one for Jazz in general, I've never been one for Big Band in particular, and so was rather pleasantly surprised by the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star lineup at the Blue Note this week. This is mostly thanks to the wicked pealing of the trumpets and a jaw-dropping, never ending, tear-it-up sax solo from Antonio Hart. Leader Slide Hampton gave enough room to individual performers to break things up so that this wasn't any kind of Lawrence Welk soporific (except for perhaps one Monk piece toward the beginning of the set that rather dragged, like an old cat with a too-big belly). Mostly, it was shoulder shaking (me), toe-tapping (my date), and hand drumming (the other person at our table) good stuff.

I have to admit to liking the Roy Hargrove originals better than the original Dizzy composition Things to Come, which I'm certain is something of a cardinal sin; blame it on my youth. Out of sync with that youth, though, is my nostalgia for the upright bass, replaced here by an electric that continued to irk me as too processed, too amplified, and too noisy (as in lacking clarity) amongst the clean sounds of the other instruments (their own cardinal sin, if I dare say so myself). Roberta Gambarini came up to sing on a few pieces, impressing me with her nervous but capable scatting (Was it an off night? Online, I read nothing but raving about her technique, but she felt a bit uncomfortable), and, with a few ballads, providing a not quite necessary break in the hard bop of the set.

Ultimately, I could do without the lounge stuff during live performances, and keep it for quiet nights at home with my books, but there's a crowd to appease, and I suppose some audiences need a rest now and then. Not me, though, I could have listened all night.

No comments: