Norman Granz' Jazz at the Philharmonic First British Tour 1958 005
Pages 6 and 7 of the programme for Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic tour of Great Britain. Page 6 features a profile of Dizzy Gillespie, with a profile of Roy Eldridge on page 7.
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ï»¿FEW people have wielded such a commanding influence over the jazz trumpet over the past ten or so years as John Birks â Dizzy â Gillespieâperhaps the most colourful figure in modern jazz since the bop era of the âforties. Dizzy is a rarity among jazzmenâa style-setter who has become almost a legend in his own time, and a man who has successfully scaled the twin peaks of commercial and artistic acceptance.
Wherever the language of jazz is spoken, Dizzyâs influence is prevalent and, next to Louis Armstrong, he is probably the most idolised trumpeter in jazz history. Today, however, we can look upon Dizzy not simply as a band-leader, or a trumpet-player, or a singer, or a clown, but more concisely and accurately as an artistâa polished, skilled entertainer who knows every trick in the book and wonât hesitate to use them when it comes to getting his particular message across to the public.
More important, however, is the fact that Dizzy can accomplish this without sacrificing musical integrity and it is to his credit that, since he first emerged as a noteworthy soloist some years ago, he has maintained a fantastically high creative and technical standard that few trumpeters of the modern school have been able to emulate.
Dizzy subscribes to the theory that jazz is essentially a happy music, and the essence of comedyâsometimes slapstick, sometimes subtle, always amusingâthat is now an integral part of his stage appearances ties in quite naturally with his own down-to-earth, unpretentious jazz style. In this way, Dizzy has considerably widened the acceptance of his musicâ something which he would probably not have achieved had he appeared through the years with a bunch of straight-faced, humourless musicians who smiled only when a flash bulb exploded in front of their eyes.
From a musical viewpoint, Dizzy is playing better today than ever before. His technical facility is as remarkable as ever, while his delivery is cleaner, crisper and decidedly more fluent; he is less inclined to direct â screamers â at the sensation-seekers in the gallery; and, above all, his playing now bears the unmistakable stamp of maturity.
It's interesting to note that Dizzyâs opposite number in the current J.A.T.P. line-up is the man to whom he once looked for musical guidance and inspirationâRoy Eldridge ! Dizzy (born : Cheraw, South Carolina, in 1917) started on trombones
at 14, switched to trumpet a year later, and played his first major engagement in the trumpet section of Frank Fairfaxâs outfit in Philadelphia (one of his colleagues was ex-J.A.P.T. trumpet man Charlie Shavers!).
Came 1937 and Dizzy replaced his idolâEldridgeâwith the Teddy Hill band, which subsequently visited Britain and France during the summer of the same year. Two years later he became one of the three principal soloists in the Cab Calloway band, alongside Chu Berry and Cozy Cole, and it was during this period that he began to develop a style that was later to become one of the major characteristics of the music known as bop. After leaving Cab, he worked briefly with Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet, Les Hite, Calvin Jackson, Lucky Millinder and Earl Hines, and even spent a few weeks in the brass team of the Duke Ellington orchestra in October, 1943.
In June, 1944, Dizzy worked with the star-spangled âbop incubatorâ big band fronted by singer Billy Eckstine, and a year later, after first leading a small combo at New York's Three Deuces niterie, organised his first big band. Towards the end of the year he disbanded, but reformed again in 1946, and toured Scandinavia before breaking up this wild, well-remembered outfit in
The next few years found Dizzy working with a quintet and his popularity overseas resulted in European visits in 1952-53. Anxious to try his luck again with a big band, he formed yet another brassy, powerhouse outfit and, at the invitation of the U.S. State Department, toured the Middle East and South America on goodwill missions in the middle âfifties. This exciting, spirited band is unfortunately no longer in existence, but, before the inevitable break-up, it recorded some wonderful albums under the supervision of Norman Granz, and a high-flying, rocking â in concert â performance from last yearâs Newport Jazz Festival on the Columbia label is indicative of the bandâs ability.
If Dizzy plays only a fraction as good here today as he does on this exhilarating album, your attendance at this concert will be thoroughly worthwhile. For this is no ordinary trumpet-playerâthis is Dizzy Gillespie ... a veritable â giant â among jazzmen!
New Musical Express.
ROY FI nRinOF
ROY â Little Jazz â Eldridge was born in Pittsburgh Pa. in 1911. He commenced his professional career with a travelling show band called the Nighthawk Synco-paters, with whom, although he could not read a note of music, he achieved some success by his playing of â Stampede a solo, be it noted, he had memorised note for note from Coleman Hawkinsâ chorus on the Fletcher Henderson record.
A trumpet player whose initial influence came from a saxophonist is bound to be able to play it fastâand Roy does just that. Although he later modelled his style on the fantastic middle-Armstrong-period, âLittle Jazz â is much too strong a personality to ever be a copyist, and so it was that later on he, in his turn, became the most admired and imitated trumpet player in jazz.
He has a tremendous range, an exceedingly brilliant tone and attacks his solos with great nervous agility. His playing varies from the tranquil playing of ballads to high boiling point when attacking swing numbers.
Roy says himself that he thinks a musician, who is a musician, should be able to play anywhere in any styleâif it is good jazz in fact, he likes it. And he likes working with the Jazz At The Philharmonic for here he gets a chance of playing to the people, and nothing gives him a bigger kick than that.-
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