June 2005

Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band
June 26, 2005Star StageToronto
Report by Stanley Fefferman with Photos by Roger Humbert
Here’s a 4 H story. The first H is Jimmy Heath, instrumentalist, composer, arranger, professor. Jimmy’s part in the story goes like this: Dizzy said about him…”If you know Jimmy Heath, you know Bop”. I say, his bright smile encourages even the audience to be real.

The second and third H’s are Roy Hargrove and Antonio Hart. Roy was the featured soloist with the Dizzy G. All Stars. His precise, minimalist trumpet riffs dotted the “i” s in time on numbers like “Manteca”. Antonio on alto gave the most blazing solo during the closing number.

Jimmy Heath

H’s 2 and 3 met for the first time in 1989 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Roy had a career going which had earned him various scholarships, including one from Down Beat magazine, which had selected him as best jazz soloist of the year. Antonio took a double major in Music and Music Education, toured the next year with Roy’s band, and at the same time took an advanced degree at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queen’s College where H the first, Jimmy Heath, was Professor of Music. Heath produced Roy’s second album Don't You Know I Care, dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie. Roy still looks forward to getting his doctorate, because, as he says, “I know this will aid me in my quest to become a better player and composer.”

H the fourth is Slide Hampton, gentle, urbane, elegant leader of the band who was handed a trombone at the age of 15 by his father to fill a spot in the family band and decided not to fight his dad’s choice after being exposed to J.J. Johnson. By the mid fifties, at the age of 20, Slide was working in one of Dizzy’s bands, and in 1988 became co-musical director of Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Touring Orchestra. In ’92 he served as Director of “Dizzy’s Diamond Jubilee". The present All Stars evolved from the musicians who performed during the Diamond Jubilee.

So that’s the 4 H story on how the players in this band we heard in Toronto at the 2005 Downtown Jazz Festival happened to find themselves on the Star Stage.

How did they do?

The band led off with Dizzy’s signature “Manteca”, featuring Dizzy originals John Wess and James Moody on flute. Then Slide called for Roy H’s first solo that he did dressed in black framed by white fedora and white sneakers. Roy also contributed a moody smooth solo to the Benny Golson tune, “Stablemates”. Jimmy Heath introduced and led off on a composition commissioned by Dizzy which Heath wrote and entitled, humbly “Without You, No Me”. Claudio Roditi did a flowing, melodic and warm trumpet solo. This was followed by Monk’s “Off Minor”, which led to eagle-eyed vocalist Roberta Gambarini (who was last here in 2002) doing a very beautiful Rosemary Clooney on Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” . Good as that was, it served to introduce a concert highlight, Dizzy’s “Blue and Boogie” when she and James Moodie got into a fast yodeling doodley-dat scat duel or duet. From there things just went down from better to best.

The closing number Slide chose was Dizzy’s fast bop tune, “Things To Come”. Roy led off with a solo, fast but smooth and light as a tomcat running along a fence, that led to trumpet madness: all four trumpets soloing or combining in pairs and quartets. Then Slide brought out the secret weapon, Antonio Hart on alto, braying like a mustang stallion leading the herd away from the ropers. The band kept on coming with Dennis Mackrel’s drums pulsing and clicking between great long rests, and Slide’s closing bars separated by rests spacious enough to suck in applause before rising to crescendo and rest cycles two or three more times before the big H called a halt and the hollering began.

Slide Hampton
We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Report by Stanley Fefferman
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Photographs by Roger Humbert

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