Dizzy's Big 4

Ray Brown / Dizzy Gillespie / Joe Pass / Mickey Roker

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Dizzy's Big 4 Review

by Ken Dryden

Dizzy Gillespie omits a piano on these 1974 sessions, but it is never missed due to the potent rhythm section supplied by guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Mickey Roker. Starting with the inspired, occasionally funky Latin-flavored "Frelimo" (which features the leader on both muted and open trumpet), Gillespie is in top form. His deliberate treatment of the forgotten chestnut "Hurry Home" is a lyrical gem, while the breezy setting of the standard "Russian Lullaby" bubbles with excitement. But the fireworks take place in the rapid-fire performance of Gillespie's "Be Bop (Dizzy's Fingers)," in which Pass seems to play at an impossible tempo. Just as much fun is the sassy, intricate interpretation of the trumpeter's blues "Birk's Works," powered by Brown's potent bass, along with the hip updated treatment of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz." This is easily one of Dizzy Gillespie's best small-group recordings from the latter portion of his career.

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