Dizzy Gillespie

Matrix

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The three albums on this double-disc collection actually document Dizzy Gillespie's relatively short stay on the Perception label between 1970-1971. For jazz purists, the latter two, Portrait of Jenny and the live Giants (with a band co-led by Diz and Bobby Hackett) will be of most interest. The first of these -- making up the latter four titles on disc one -- consists of four long tracks showcasing the more balladic style of the Gillespie band along with some subtle funk elements (courtesy of guitarist George Davis), and the latter is a burning live date with Hackett and Gillespie crashing through standards from bop's yesteryear (with a few surprises). The anomaly here is The Real Thing, which is a soul-jazz date that incorporates very successfully the grittier funk sounds coming out of the jazz world since Miles Davis threw down the gauntlet with Bitches Brew. This is hardly a fusion date, though. It's Diz with guitarist Eric Gale, Phil Upchurch and Chuck Rainey on bass, pianist Mike Longo (who wrote a slew of cuts here), and drummer Bernard Purdie. "Soul Kiss" might have been a Sly Stone instrumental, and just smokes. "Closer" has Diz trying to sing soul with a backing female chorus (yes, it does work), and the deep soul read of Gershwin's "Summertime" simply has to be heard to be believed -- it and Gillespie's "N'Bani" (which nods to Santana's "Soul Sacrifice") are the standouts on the set. This is an essential purchase for fans of Gillespie in that it shows just how deep his creative spirit ran as he was always looking for new modes of expression.

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