Mu­si­cians pay trib­ute to Gillespie

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Chris Smith

IF you’re go­ing to cel­e­brate the mu­sic and play­ing of trum­pet great Dizzy Gillespie, it’s good to get out front with a punchy tune, one that il­lus­trates his skill and joie de vivre.

Sun­day af­ter­noon, in the mid­dle concert of three over the week­end, Blue n’ Boo­gie fit the bill as trum­peter Marcus Printup, bari­tone sax­o­phon­ist Gary Smulyan, pi­anist Ed­ward Si­mon, bassist Steve Kirby and drum­mer Daf­nis Pri­eto paid trib­ute to Gillespie, whose ca­reer spanned the 1940s to 1993.

Smulyan and Printup opened the tune with short so­los be­fore the trum­peter took the spot­light with a ter­rific solo, hit­ting the high notes and the pass­ing it back to Smulyan for an­other great solo, if not as fiery by the na­ture of the bari. Si­mon and Kirby added good so­los be­fore Pri­eto fin­ished it off with a kick-ass drum solo. It was the kind of start to a concert that Gillespie would have been proud of.

An­other pop­u­lar Gillespie tune, Woody n’ You, show­cased the tal­ents of the band mem­bers, but es­pe­cially the Cuban­born, New York-based Pri­eto who got the solo spot he de­served, a tour de force of drumming that thrilled the au­di­ence and gave it some­thing to think about dur­ing in­ter­mis­sion.

And right af­ter the break, Pri­eto stole the show again when the band played Man­teca, Gillespie’s well-known AfroCuban mas­ter­piece.

It was trum­peter Printup, of course who car­ried the heav­i­est load in a trib­ute to Gillespie, and his solo­ing all af­ter­noon was ex­em­plary; show­cas­ing or sub­tle, as needed, but al­ways with an ear to the big man’s own tal­ent.

The in­clu­sion of a bari­tone sax in this band was a great idea, and Smulyan, who played in Gillespie’s United Na­tion Or­ches­tra, was the per­fect fit. Not only is he fa­mil­iar with Gillespie’s mu­sic, he wields that big horn with such skill and gusto.

As if to em­pha­size Smulyan’s ver­sa­til­ity, he was given a duo spot with pi­anist Si­mon on Round Mid­night, a sublime ren­di­tion with the two mu­si­cians meld­ing their so­los into each other’s and re­mind­ing the au­di­ence that Gillespie wasn’t all high notes and speed.

It would’t be a cel­e­bra­tion of Gillespie with­out tunes such as Tin Tin Deo, I can’t Get Started, Tour de Force, Con Alma and, of course, the clos­ing num­ber A Night in Tu­nisia, eas­ily one of his more rec­og­niz­able and most cov­ered com­po­si­tions.

Con Alma, whose ti­tle trans­lates as With Soul, was just that in the hands of Si­mon, who per­formed it with a del­i­cacy and dex­ter­ity that was mar­vel­lous to hear.

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