Dave Douglas – Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 58:09 minutes | 1,25 GB | Genre: Pop
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Greenleaf Music
When Dizzy Gillespie put his hat in the ring for President of the United States in 1964, he also offered to be the first African-American astronaut, just in case they couldn’t find anyone else. In making Dizzy Atmosphere, Dave Douglas’s tribute to the great trumpeter, composer and humanist, Douglas said he wanted to explore Dizzy’s experimental and wide open mind as well as the influence of his music.
This album shines a light on the whole legacy of Gillespie, one of America’s finest artists. The original music Douglas wrote swings and shimmers with a grace reminiscent of the great man. Dizzy Atmosphere also contains several imaginative arrangements of Gillespie compositions, including reinterpretations of two key Gillespie tunes “Manteca” and “Pickin’ the Cabbage.” Douglas’s band is also remarkable, featuring fellow trumpeter Dave Adewumi, recent winner of the Carmine Caruso Competition, along with pianist Fabian Almazan, guitarist Matt Stevens, bassist Carmen Rothwell, and drummer Joey Baron.
Like his previous explorations of the influential music of Mary Lou Williams, Wayne Shorter, and Booker Little, this album is sure to inspire listeners to hear the music of Dizzy Gillespie in a new and interesting ways.
Following in the mold of his 1994 Booker Little album In Our Lifetime, his 1997 Wayne Shorter-inspired Stargazer, and his 2000 Mary Lou Williams project Soul on Soul, Dave Douglas again draws inspiration from a jazz hero and digs into the music of legendary bop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on his artfully nuanced 2020 sextet album, Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity. The music showcased on Dizzy Atmosphere was initially presented by Douglas at a 2018 concert at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. Included in that line-up was trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Linda May Han Oh, and drummer Joey Baron. Due in part to scheduling conflicts, and a desire on Douglas’ part to avoid repeating himself, he decided to bring together a different ensemble for this studio recording. Only drummer Baron makes a return, joined instead by trumpeter Dave Adewumi, guitarist Matthew Stevens, pianist Fabian Almazan, and bassist Carmen Rothwell. Barring newcomers Rothwell and Adewumi, each of these musicians have played with Douglas in the past and bring an empathetic sense of excitement and group interplay to the recording. The interesting choice to bring on board a second trumpeter is no happenstance and falls in line with Gillespie’s own tradition of playing alongside younger up-and-coming trumpeters, including Miles Davis, and in the case of his storied big band, Lee Morgan. Here, New England Conservatory and Juilliard graduate Adewumi takes on the role of the second horn, his warm tone and inventive lines working as both complement and contrast to Douglas. As with his past tribute albums, Douglas eschews basic cover arrangements and instead offers a mix of originals and reworked versions of Gillespie’s songs that use the iconic trumpeter’s music as a jumping-off point. That said, there are two straight-up covers here in the group’s effusively funky reading of Gillespie’s classic Afro-Cuban bop anthem “Manteca,” and their bluesy, plunger mute-accented take on the Cab Calloway band tune “Pickin’ the Cabbage’; both of which find Douglas marrying the kinetic energy of Gillespie’s swinging ’40s ensembles with his own group’s edgy harmonies and off-kilter improvisations. Equally synergistic are Douglas originals like “Con Almazan” and “Cadillac,” which reference Gillespie’s “Con Alma” and “Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac,” but take them in unexpected directions; deconstructing their groovy and soulful Latin rhythms into dramatically fractured soundscapes. Similarly unexpected are cuts like the moody “See Me Now” with its juxtaposition between Stevens’ shimmering high-end guitar lines and Almazan’s burnished low-end piano, and the buoyant “Subterfuge, whose sparkling, harmonized trumpet melody still manages to bring to mind Gillespie’s bright-toned big-band arrangements. – Matt Collar
1. Mondrian (05:33)
2. Con Almazan (08:13)
3. Cadillac (06:08)
4. See Me Now (04:35)
5. Manteca (07:43)
6. Pickin’ The Cabbage (04:46)
7. Pacific (09:29)
8. Subterfuge (06:23)
9. We Pray (05:24)
10. Woody ‘N’ You (05:40)