Dizzy Gillespie & Lalo Schifrin: Studio And Live Collaborations

Years after adding Latin rhythm to bebop, Dizzy went further, asking the Argentinian Lalo Schifrin to compose the Gillespiana Suite


It seems likely that Gillespie and Schifrin first met when Dizzy’s tour for the State Department went to Argentina in 1956. Dizzy kept Lalo in mind, and when the pianist came to New York in 1960 Dizzy greeted him with “Yeah, where you been?” The upshot was that he commissioned Schifrin to compose and arrange his Gillespiana Suite. Lalo wrote the piece two years before the two men met and sent it to Diz as a gift. It was recorded soon after they met, its 42 minutes representing one of the first successful combinations of American big band jazz with Latin American rhythms. Many years earlier Gillespie had been one of the first to pull in South American rhythms to jazz. It’s a thoroughly successful work. In his long, romping solo on Salt Peanuts, Lalo lays out what a fine jazz pianist he was.

When Dizzy first unleashed his talents into bebop he knew no restraint and stretched the range of the trumpet ever upwards. During the late 50s the fox set in and he realised that regular living in the upper registers would shorten his career. That’s why, at the end of 1956, men like Lee Morgan, Carl Warwick and other dynamic trumpeters joined his big band. Joe Gordon, who had joined in 1956 when Dizzy reformed the big band, was assigned most of the trumpet solos when the band played at high altitude in South America. His health was damaged as a result and he died two or three years later.

Schifrin’s orchestration of Gillespiana is outstanding, and there seems to be no inhibition in Dizzy’s clarion trumpet work. The (4) tracks come from An Electrifying Evening, one of Dizzy’s best later albums that was done with his quintet. Leo Wright is magnificent on flute and alto for a 10-minute version of Gillespie’s unforgettable Kush. What a useful artefact Wright was to Gillespie! He should certainly have been accorded more prestige. Wright’s alto was the only reed in Gillespiana, and he wails convincingly on all of the rest of the tracks excepting Wheateigh Hall where he isn’t present.

Stan Getz is, although the discography omits to note him. Gillespie opens the track with a swift and intense solo with basic accompaniment. Following him Getz struggles to replicate Dizzy’s eloquent fluency. JJ Johnson, typically more fastidious, has much more success. Gillespie’s rhythm section, with the prodigious talent of bassist Art Davis, is used on this and most of the other tracks. Candido’s bongo fireworks are let loose on Wheatleigh Hall. He’s omitted from the sleeve personnel, and I have restored his name below.

CD1: (1) Prelude; Panamericana; Blues; (2) Toccata; Africana; (3) Wheatleigh Hall; (4) Kush; Salt Peanuts (70.33)
CD2: (4) The Mooche; A Night In Tunisia; (5) Manteca; (6) Lorraine; (7) Lady Be Good; (8) Long Long Summer; I Waited For You; Desafinado; Pau De Arara; (9) Here ’Tis; Chega De Saudade; Ole (70.31)
Gillespie (t, v) with:
(1) Ernie Royal, Clark Terry, Joe Wilder (t); Urbie Green, Britt Woodman, Frank Rehak (tb); Paul Falise (btb); Julius Watkins, Gunther Schuller, Jimmy Buffington, Al Richman (frh); Don Butterfield (tu); Leo Wright (as, f); Lalo Schifrin (p); Art Davis (b); Chuck Lampkin (d); Candido Camero (cga); Jack Del Rio (bgo); Willie Rodriguez (timb). NYC, 14 & 15 November 1960.
(2) as above but Morris Scott and William Lister (frh) replace Buffington and Richman. 16 November 1960.
(3) Jazz At The Philharmonic: JJ Johnson (tb); Benny Carter, Cannonball Adderley (as); Schifrin (p); Davis (b); Lampkin (d; Candido (bgo). Stockholm, 21 November 1960.
(4) Leo Wright (as, f); Schifrin (p); Bob Cunningham (b); Lampkin (d). NYC, 9 February 1961.
(5) John Frosk, Terry, Carl Warwick, Nick Travis (t); George Matthews, Arnette Sparrow, Britt Woodman (tb); Falise (btb); Schuller, Buffington, John Barrows, Richard Berg (frh); Don Butterfield (tu); Wright (as, f); Schifrin (p); Davis (b); Lampkin (d); Ray Barretto, Julito Collazo, Jose Mangual (pc).
(6) as (4), Monterey, 23 September 1961.
(7) as (4) but Mel Lewis (d) replaces Lampkin. Munich, 1 December 1961.
(8) Wright (as, f); Charlie Ventura (ts, bss); Schifrin (p); Chris White (b); Rudy Collins (d); Jose Paula (g, pc, v); Carmen Costa (cabasa, guiro, v). NYC, May 1962.
(9) Wright (as, f); Schifrin (p); Elek Bacsik (g); Chris White (b); Rudy Collins (d); Pepito Riestra (pc). Juan-Les-Pins, France. 24 July 1962.
Acrobat ADDCD 3408