Say "jazz trumpet" to even the most casual jazz fan, and the name Dizzy Gillespie will be one of the first responses. A half century after expanding the parameters of bebop by fusing jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms, Dizzy still ranks as one of the greatest – if not the greatest – trumpeters in the history of jazz. His intuitive understanding of the genre’s limitless possibilities made him not only a brilliant artist but a great bandleader as well.
Almost a decade after Dizzy’s passing, the Dizzy Gillespie™ Alumni All-Star Big Band – an elite corps that includes some of the finest musicians to play with Dizzy – continues to tour and perform nationally and internationally to pay tribute to the master and bear witness to his legacy.
Things To Come (MCGJ 1009) is set for worldwide release on May 28, 2002, on the MCG Jazz label, marketed and distributed by Telarc International Corp.
The album captures the energy and passion of one of these brilliant musical moments. Recorded live at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, PA, during a four-night stand in September 2001, Things To Come showcases the talents of eighteen disciples from the Gillespie school – many of whom are high-profile jazz musicians in their own right – under the leadership of trumpeter extraordinaire Jon Faddis. Included in the star-studded lineup are Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, James Moody and Frank Wess – all veterans who played with Dizzy at various times throughout the past five decades. Younger musicians such as Jay Ashby, Antonio Hart and Claudio Roditi were also members of Gillespie’s bands in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
A trumpeter since the tender age of eight, Faddis has spent a lifetime cultivating a staggering technical and stylistic range that has positioned him as the rightful heir to the Gillespie legacy. Already regarded as the "young Diz" by his late teens, he became part of Gillespie’s inner circle when Dizzy took him on as his protégé in the early ‘80s. It was the beginning of a relationship that would eventually result in Faddis’ ascendance to the band’s musical director’s chair. But his resume is by no means limited to the Gillespie connection. He’s compiled performance and/or studio credits with a diverse cross section of artists over the years, including Lionel Hampton, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson, Frank Sinatra, Clark Terry and others.
In the true spirit of Gillespie and his craft, Things To Come is a passionate, high-energy experience. Built on Dizzy’s original charts, the songs come to life via the collective talents of the players at hand. Opening with the smooth-sounding but energetic "Stablemates" (penned by Benny Golson, a sideman and arranger in Dizzy’s band during the ‘50s), the recording immediately showcases the band’s wealth of soloing talent – in this instance, trumpeter Greg Gisbert and pianist Renee Rosnes. "Stabelmates" segues into the lighthearted "Jessica’s Day," a Quincy Jones composition with an easygoing riff shared by tenor saxophonist James Moody and flautist Frank Wess.
The remaining nine tracks are a mix of original compositions from the Gillespie songbook, as well as a few offerings from equally titanic composers like Oscar Hammerstein ("Lover Come Back"), Thelonius Monk ("’Round Midnight") and Ray Brown ("Ray’s Idea"). The set closes with a potent reading of "A Night in Tunisia," Dizzy’s oft-covered signature piece that maintains as much exotic presence in this modern-day context as it did the moment it was first penned some six decades ago.
Things to Come is everything the title implies – a nod to one of jazz’s great masters, but with a fresh, forward-looking perspective crafted by some of his closest comrades and ardent followers.
MCG Jazz is an outgrowth of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG), a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit arts and learning center founded in 1968. The multi-discipline, minority-directed center is dedicated to fostering creative, intellectual and economic empowerment among disadvantaged people in urban communities. One of MCG’s primary goals is the preservation, presentation and promotion of jazz and visual arts to stimulate intercultural understanding among audiences.
In keeping with this goal, MCG has developed MCG Jazz, a specialty recording label that captures the magic of many of the jazz artists who perform at the center every year. The small label has already won a Grammy for its 1996 pressing, Count Basie Orchestra with the New York Voices, Live at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. A year later, Paquito D’Rivera and the United Nation Orchestra Live at MCG, scored a Grammy nomination.
Launched in the fall of 2001 with the highly successful release of A Nancy Wilson Christmas, the alliance between MCG Jazz and Telarc brings the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild’s high standard of jazz excellence to an international audience.