Steve Davis, trombone
Cyrus Chestnut, piano
John Lee, bass
Lewis Nash, drums
History has produced its share of great artists and great people – John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was both. As a performer, he left behind an incredible record of innovation and inspiration; as a composer, a broad repository of musical masterpieces; and as a man, a legion of friends, colleagues, and compatriots who remember him with the same degree of love and esteem they reserve for his work.
The Dizzy Gillespie™ Big Band and smaller Alumni All-Star group are the direct descendants of Gillespie's musical ventures. The groups have featured some of Dizzy's closest compatriots: senior statesman and NEA Jazz Master James Moody; musical director John Lee; and veteran Gillespie alumni Roy Hargrove, Roberta Gambarini, Cyrus Chestnut, Steve Davis, and Willie Jones III. All of them are outstanding band leaders, educators, and recording artists in their own right.
The Alumni All-Star group debuted in 1996, while the Big Band debuted in 1998. Together they continue to delight audiences around the world with the enduring power and freshness of Gillespie's music. These groups are the legacy the master would have wanted, and they serve as a living tribute from extraordinary musicians who exemplify his style, range, and commitment.
Together, the Dizzy Big Band and small group All-Stars have recorded numerous critically acclaimed albums, including Dizzy's 80th Birthday Celebration (1997), Dizzy's World (1999), Things to Come (2002), and Dizzy's Business (2006). The latest of these albums features new arrangements by musical director Slide Hampton, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath, drummer Dennis Mackrel, and vocalist Roberta Gambarini, as well as two vintage Ernie Wilkins arrangements originally commissioned by Dizzy himself.
The Dizzy Gillespie™ Big Band's latest CD, titled I'm BeBoppin' Too, was released on Half Note Records in June 2009. The big band CD features arrangements by Slide Hampton and a vocal appearance by Roy Hargrove on the title track. All About Jazz called the recording "a remarkably proficient and invariably engaging outing."
The Dizzy Gillespie™ All-Stars are excited to return to their home at New York's famed Blue Note, which was for many years Dizzy's favorite jazz club not only in New York City, but in the world. The All-Star Big Band performs there for a week every summer, and the Alumni All-Star small group celebrates Dizzy's birthday for a week every October.
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