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Birks Works: Verve Big Band Sessions
Dizzy Gillespie
Birks Works: Verve Big Band Sessions
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Latin Music
  •  Track Listings (19) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #2

Dizzy Gillespie was many things--a great bop trumpeter, superbly prescient vocalist, awesome bandleader, international ambassador, crowd-pleasing humorist, the ultimate master of ceremonies--all sides of his massive talent...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Dizzy Gillespie
Title: Birks Works: Verve Big Band Sessions
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Release Date: 8/22/1995
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Latin Music
Styles: Latin Jazz, Swing Jazz, Bebop
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 731452790026, 0731452790026

Dizzy Gillespie was many things--a great bop trumpeter, superbly prescient vocalist, awesome bandleader, international ambassador, crowd-pleasing humorist, the ultimate master of ceremonies--all sides of his massive talent amply displayed in this cornucopia of Gillespie big bands. The set collects three individual albums from 1956-57--"Birks Works," "Dizzy In Greece" and "World Statesman"--some alternate takes, and a fascinating sequence of attempts at "Left Hand Corner" that shows the band's dedication to perfection. Some of the great players on these sessions include Phil Woods and Ernie Henry on alto saxophones, Lee Morgan and Quincy Jones on trumpets, Al Grey on trombone, Walter Davis Jr., and Wynton Kelly on piano with Charli Persip on drums. And, of course, since it's Dizzy's band, everybody sings. --John Swenson

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CD Reviews

Dizzy's last big band
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 07/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Dizzy Gillespie always hankered to lead a big band, but like most post-war big band leaders he found that they just were no longer economically viable. His first big-band efforts, recorded on Savoy & RCA Victor, date from the heyday of bop; that band broke up, but this later band, from 1956-57, is made up of a terrific mix of hungry up-and-coming hard boppers like Lee Morgan, Benny Golson & Ernie Henry and other musicians like Phil Woods, Al Grey, Wynton Kelly & Joe Gordon. This band was decidedly a Cold War-era band: its three albums (compiled on this 2-fer set) were called _Dizzy Gillespie: World Statesman_, _Dizzy in Greece_ and _Birks' Works_, & the band basically survived by touring around the world, sponsored by the US Government. (For more information on Gillespie's bandleading & its background, the curious should look at Scott DeVeaux's marvellous book _The Birth of Bebop_.) After they returned to the US the band broke up in 1958--ironically enough, as an interview in the liner notes points out, just before their recording of "Over the Rainbow" became their first jukebox hit.OK, so what of the music? Well, it's hard-hitting big band material, with charts by Ernie Wilkins, Benny Golson, Quincy Jones, Melba Liston & others. Surprisingly there's little material showing the interest in Afro-Cuban fusion which Gillespie elsewhere showed. There's a certain amount of throwaway material--silly nonsense songs like "Umbrella Man", or the disappointing "The Champ" which after a terrific Gillespie scat intro becomes a long drum solo for Charlie Persip. Melba Liston inexplicably provides the umpteenth jazz reorchestration of Grieg's "Anitra's Dance" and Debussy's "Reverie". But the rest is prime Gillespiana--often revisiting past tunes like "A Night in Tunisia" but also providing first hearing to important material like Golson's "Whisper Not" and "Stablemates". The man himself solos mightily, & the rest of the band is superb too.One caveat, however: there are two serious remastering problems with the release. First: the previously unreleased take of "Whisper Not" is afflicted with bad reverb, to the point of unlistenability. Second: the master take of "Whisper Not" has several odd volume fluctuations, including a strange moment where the rhythm section triples in volume for a second. One wishes that record companies paid closer attention to the products they released--in every other respect this CD is a model reissue."
Birks Works works for me
Eric C. Sedensky | Madison, AL, US | 01/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Dizzy Gillespie is one of the big, legendary names in jazz, but since he made so many recordings with so many record companies and artists, both in starring and supporting roles, it is really hard to pin down a "definitive" work that is not only entertaining and has mass appeal but that shows Dizzy at his musical peak. And while I have not sampled all that much else by Gillespie, I think I probably found the most appealing bit of his work right here. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings: Eighth Edition recommends this as a core collection selection, and it's easy to see why. Dizzy and his big band play a wide selection of his original songs and jazz standards, even including some wonderful vocal numbers sung by male soloist Austin Cromer, female soloist (plucked out of the trombone section) Melba Liston, and even a couple with the whole band singing (which is very cool). This 2-CD set has 42 tracks on it, about two hours and forty minutes of swinging, hot, big band jazz music. The liner notes are thick and cover everything from the original album liner notes and covers, to detailed musician and soloists lists, to interviews and back stories. It's almost like a jazz history lesson. The music is really "up" and of course, it swings like you know a Dizzy Gillespie band would swing. The sound and production are great and they even covered the CD's with facsimiles of the original vinyl labels ("long playing microgroove"). Really, there is nothing to dislike about this set. It's some of the best jazz music around in one of the most user friendly, informative packages ever. Buy it with confidence.
Be-bop big band magic
Nikica Gilic | Zagreb, Croatia | 07/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First class be-bop!
Fabulous music from 3 Gillespie's LP's (plus some alternate takes and previously not published oddities) gives a great insight in the methods of adjusting the big-band format to modern jazz. Constantly exciting, with just a few commercial tracks, this collection is essential to any fan of modern jazz.
Feel free to ignore the comments about less-than-perfect audio engineering."