For the first jazz release on his self-run Aleph label, Schifrin flew to Cologne, Germany to record this solid remake of Gillespiana, his 1960 five-movement concerto for Dizzy Gillespie with which Schifrin had been touring earlier in 1996. Designed to illustrate the sources that inspired Gillespie's music, the work remains one of the chameleonic Schifrin's best in a big-band idiom, particularly the dynamic Afro-Cuban-flavored blues "Toccata" that closes the concerto. The choice of Jon Faddis as Gillespie's stand-in was, of course, a no-brainer, for Faddis is the foremost Gillespie disciple on the scene, and his high-wire performance here captures both the stratospheric Gillespie of his youth and the mellower, slyer, muted Gillespie of later years. Fellow Jazz Meets the Symphony regular Paquito D'Rivera has some hot solo passages on alto; Alex Acuña and Marcio Doctor are given percussion showcases; Schifrin himself remains a persuasive jazz pianist, and Cologne's WDR Big Band almost matches the electricity that Schifrin's American bands generated on tour with this piece. As an encore, Schifrin tacks on his pleasing bossa nova arrangement of Villa-Lobos' "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5," with trumpeter Markus Stockhausen (son of composer Karlheinz Stockhausen) playing the tune nice and mellow.
by Richard S. Ginell