Dizzy Gillespie has become such a high-level cultural icon lately that it's sometimes easy to overlook the fact that he continues to be a vigorously creative jazz musician.
A new CD, "The Paris All-Stars: Homage to Charlie Parker"--an all-star collection recorded on June 15, 1989--prominently features the be-bop trumpeter. The session was completed during a five-day event celebrating the French Revolution and honoring the similarly revolutionary music of alto saxophonist Parker and includes a sterling array of performers. The collection is particularly interesting for its combination of Gillespie with such early associates as vibist Milt Jackson and drummer Max Roach.
The trumpeter shows up on several tracks, most notable of which are versions of his original rhythm ballad "Con Alma," the sensuous "A Night in Tunisia" and the high-speed scat vocalizing of "Oo Pa Pa Da." If Gillespie does not quite have the killer accuracy in his rapid-note patterns that he once did, he continues, in his 73rd year, to be one of the most unique voices in jazz history.
Other highlights feature a specialty for each of the participants: drummer Roach, on his "Drummers' Sweet"; alto saxophonists Phil Woods and Jackie McLean on a high-flying "Cherokee"; tenor saxophonist Stan Getz on Ellington's "Warm Valley"; vibraphonist Jackson on "Old Folks," and bassist Percy Heath and pianist Hank Jones on Parker's "Yardbird Suite."