It's easy and perhaps unfair to take any later jazz album by a trendy, "hot" trumpeter and compare it to a classic like Have Trumpet, Will Excite!. Critics and fans have been afforded the luxury of time to weed out half-efforts. Still, even without former knowledge of who Dizzy Gillespie is, Have Trumpet, Will Excite! separates itself from the crowd pretty quickly. The Latin up-tempo arrangement of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" thrusts the song into an entirely different realm. Junior Mance's piano kicks things of with a quirky, forceful rhythm, and after Gillespie's trumpet lays down the bare bones of the melody, it's pretty much forgotten. From there, the band takes off on a creative surge. The same is true of "My Man." A brave arrangement, kicked off by piano and outlined by trumpet, completely rewrites the piece. "Sure," Gillespie and the band, seem to say, "We can play old swing tunes, but wouldn't it be cool if we turned them inside out?" This approach, along with sharp solos, gives the material an exciting edge. Gillespie's solo on "St. Louis Blues" just soars, while Les Spann, who plays both flute and guitar on the album, follows him with a bristly guitar solo. Mance offers distinctive piano work that matches Gillespie's enthusiasm on tunes like "Woody 'N' You," while bassist Sam Jones and drummer Lex Humphries keep a high-octane rhythm in constant motion. Have Trumpet, Will Excite! more than measures up to its promise and stands as a cornerstone of Gillespie's '50s work.
Have Trumpet, Will Excite! Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.