The legendary Dizzy Gillespie this weekend, featuring Mary Lou Williams, Curtis Fuller, Barney Wilen, Philly Joe Jones and Ronny Boykins in an all-star jam session, recored live in Nice, France on July 7, 1978.
Nothing needs to be said or added to the already voluminous amounts of praise, assessments, critiques and recollections which have been assembled and pored over, throughout the years for these Jazz giants. Suffice to say that Dizzy Gillespie was one of the key figures in the Bop revolution in Jazz – that his contribution to this new and adventuresome step in the history of Music can’t be underestimated. Surrounding himself with some of the best known names; all like-minded in their spirit of adventure and virtuosity, completes as astonishing and historic glimpse into a group of figures essential in the story of Jazz.
Mary Lou Williams, a legend in her own right, joins Dizzy, lending her vocal talents to the proceedings – along with French tenor Sax luminary Barney Wilen, the legendary Philly Joe Jones on drums and Ronny Boykins to fill out the all-star ensemble.
It’s good music making all around, and luckily it was captured for broadcast by French Radio. It’s a sad state of affairs that we haven’t been continuing the tradition of live jazz broadcasts, showcasing what America has been so closely associated with for many decades, and is, a cultural aspect woven into our national heritage.
It’s been said, in recent years, that Jazz isn’t as popular as it once was, that it no longer justifies the expenditures needed for broadcasting or even making available via traditional, mainstream record labels. That it somehow belongs to a “perceived elite” group of music aficionados and not the majority of people. First off, to describe people with any curiosity or capacity to be stimulated and learn more to be considered “elite” is a basic insult to human nature and a degradation of a basic human need. That Jazz, like Art and Literature be considered the dalliances of the privileged is flat-out wrong.
Jazz is for everyone – and Dizzy Gillespie would be the first to tell you that.
Enjoy – play loud and tell your friends.