Dizzy Gillespie & Oscar Peterson & Jon Faddis
I’d always heard that Dizzy Gillespie feigned having a cold when he met up with Oscar Peterson for their duo recording in London in 1974. Peterson intimidated most everyone, even the formidable John Birks Gillespie, so this story was easy to accept as gospel. But Dizzy put it a little differently in his memoir, To Be or Not to Bop:
“On the day of the record date, knowing I had to work hard because Oscar was there, I got there early to warm up properly. Oscar came in and I was lying down in the back of the studio with my horn across my chest, snoring. It was all planned. I told them to let me know when he was coming. When he walked in the studio, Oscar said, ‘Ain’t no use trying to get your rest now, brother, you’re in trouble today.’
“I said, ‘Wait a minute…I just want you to know the significance of what you see here. I have been asleep. I stayed here all night waiting for you! You better be ready.’ He cracked up and, boy, didn’t we have a time those two days [November 29, 30, 1974]…That’s the way the world should be structured, I think—cooperation mixed with, never overshadowed by, competition.”
Gillespie won his first Grammy award for his recording with Peterson, and the Pablo release also won the Down Beat Critics Poll for Record of the Year. Here at Wolf Trap in 1988 are Peterson, age 63, and Gillespie, age 71, playing “All the Things You Are.”
Norman Granz produced subsequent piano-trumpet sessions between Peterson and veterans Roy Eldridge, Harry “Sweets” Edison, and Clark Terry over the next few months. The series concluded with Dizzy’s protégé, Jon Faddis, who was early in his career but had already gained notice for his work with Charles Mingus and as the lead trumpeter in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. Faddis wasn’t quite 22 when he entered Peterson’s den on June 5, 1975, but he sounded fearless and ready for his joust with the leonine pianist. In tonight’s Jazz a la Mode, Faddis and Peterson play the Ellington classics "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," and "Take the A Train," as well as “Autumn Leaves.”
We'll also hear a trio of selections ("Speak Like a Child," "Naima," and "Footprints") from a 1997 recording showcasing Faddis with a Gil Evans-flavored orchestra arranged and conducted by Carlos Franzetti. It's called Remembrances, and it reveals a more subdued and lyrical Faddis than is customary. When asked if the recording was a "stylistic departure," he replied, "In some respects, it's a departure, especially in the degree of restraint and subtlety. ..I believe I've always had this type of playing in me, and I wanted to show another side, especially to those who hear my name and think only of my upper-register prowess."
(photo by John Abbott)
In the six-degrees-of-separation department, here’s Faddis with Peterson’s protégé, Benny Green, paying tribute to former Peterson sideman Ray Brown, on Gillespie’s great original “Con Alma.”
And here’s a report on Faddis that intersperses interview footage with a performance at the Blue Note featuring the Oakland native with a new generation of protégés, Terell Stafford and Michael Rodriguez.