There are musicians that share the bandstand together, maybe a drink or dinner before or after a show but there was a special bond between Arturo Sandoval and Dizzy Gillespie. Having spoken with Sandoval roughly three weeks ago he shared with me some of the memories he had of his friend and mentor Dizzy Gillespie how they apply to this stellar big band release of some Gillespie classics. Sandoval simply stated "I want people to remember and appreciate the melodies."
Dear Diz is all about the melodies and lasting legacy of the great Dizzy Gillespie as well as the incredible joy that a player such as Sandoval can bring to the bandstand especially when playing these Gillespie classics which are his musical wheelhouse. Dear Diz happens to be big band arrangement but with a heavy dose of be bop flavor added for texture, vitality and originality which were the hallmarks of the Gillespie discography. There are guest artists including Bob Mintzer, Joey DeFrancesco, and Eddie Daniels with additional well placed surprises sprinkled throughout Sandoval's second release on the Concord label.
The release opens with a recording of Gillespie's voice introducing a young Sandoval as "one of the young grand masters of the trumpet" from a live performance in the late 80's. The slightly more contemporary re-work of "Bebop" grabs your immediate attention and allows you to settle in for a high octane sonic journey through some of the most iconic tunes in jazz. "Salt Peanuts" features the Yellowjacket's saxophonist Bob Mintzer with the great Gary Burton on vibes and end result is a vibrant swing some artists could work their entire career for and never achieve. Dear Diz is simply not screaming big band that will pin your ears to the wall type of release but a masterwork in ebb and flow. A great deal of time, thought and consideration has gone into this presentation as evidenced by "Con Alma." Grammy winning Norman Schwartz includes a classical string quartet in the arrangement giving an elegant and poignant touch to a timeless classic.
There are virtually too many literal high notes to this recording to list them all. Arturo Sandoval is still a searching artist. There are some trumpet players that claim they blow more horn than anyone. Arturo Sandoval much like Dizzy Gillespie never felt the need to take out ad space, their talent was their validation. A musician that enjoys variety, exploration and above all performing. Dear Diz is that musical thank you note that more artists should consider writing if they have found themselves given a leg up by a master instead of attempting to ride the musical coattails of someone they never knew. Sandoval celebrates the innovation and creativity that Gillespie brought to each note he played as though it were it was to be his last. Not just a musical lesson but a life lesson for all of us.
An impeccable 5 star release!
Tracks: Be Bop; Salt Peanuts (featuring Bob Mintzer & Gary Burton); And Then She Stopped (featuring Joey DeFrancesco; Birks Works (featuring Plas Johnson & Joey DeFrancesco; Things To Come (featuring Bob Mintzer, Bob Sheppard & Joey DeFrancesco; Fiesta Mojo (featuring Eddie Daniels); Con Alma (featuring The Ralph Morrison String Quartet; Tin Tin Deo (featuring Manolo Gimenez & Wally Minko; Algo Bueno (featuring Dan Higgins & Andy Martin); A Night In Tunisia; Every Day I Think Of You.
A taste of the recording session from You Tube