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The Gillespie Big Band (1946)

In late spring of 1946, Dizzy was given an opportunity by Clark Monroe to start a big band, based at the Spotlite club on 52nd street. Dizzy and his arranger Gil Fuller busily set about about recruiting the members, holding rehearsals at Minton's Playhouse. Among the enduring names in that edition of the band were Sonny Stitt, Kenny Dorham, Leo Parker, Thelonious Monk, John Lewis (later replacing Monk) and the other members of the future "Modern Jazz Quartet" - Milt Jackson, Ray Brown and Kenny Clarke. His few months with the Gillespie band in 1946 put Clarke firmly back on the map before he left to record under his own name and pursue engagements with Fats Navarro, Tadd Dameron and others.

Clarke said of this time (in "Groovin' High: the life of Dizzy Gillespie"): "The power, the rhythm, the harmonies of that band were like something I'd never heard before. You can't imagine what it was like to play in. Diz was the pivot. We got to a point where there was nothing we couldn't do."

The band had two studio recording sessions during Clarke's 1946 tenure:

  • June 10, 1946: Our Delight; Good Dues Blues*

  • July 9, 1946: One Bass Hit; Ray's Idea; Things to Come; He Beeped When He Shoulda Bopped*

* With vocal by Alice Roberts

In addition, the band was recorded live on several dates at the Spotlite during May and June 1946. These recordings were first released in 1978 on the Hi-Fly label and feature, in addition to the above, other charts in the band's repertoire at that time such as Groovin' High, Cool Breeze, Oop Bop Sh'bam, Woody'n You, Lazy Mood and the band's theme song "I Waited for You". Also included is a gem in the form of a guest vocal by Sarah Vaughan with the Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Quartet (presumably between big band sets, using the band's rhythm section), performing the McHugh-Fields ballad "Don't Blame Me".

Musical references:


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