Jazz Reviews : Gillespie Leads a Serviceable Unit at Vine St.

Looking regal and colorful in his dashiki and fez, Dizzy Gillespie is dominating the bandstand at the Vine Street Bar & Grill.

The group he is leading here is not his United Nation Orchestra, but the quintet with which he usually travels. Looking well and evidently rested after a long layoff, the seminal bebopper seemed to be in good shape; long, well-controlled runs issued from his legendary bent horn in the intimate room.

Pacing himself carefully, he moved from trumpet to piano to supply backgrounds for a guitar solo by Ed Cherry, occasionally played percussion, and scatted his way through “Oo Pa Pa Da” (now in its fifth decade and perhaps overdue for retirement).

Occasionally Gillespie picked up a “rhythmstick,” a curious wooden contraption lined with small tambourines.


His partner in the front line is tenor saxophonist Ron Holloway, an able soloist with a full, commanding sound. Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa and electric bassist John Lee round out the group, which, though serviceable, will not go down in history among Gillespie’s greatest units.

A surprise element was Jon Faddis, the Gillespie protege and longtime friend, who sat in on Tuesday and Wednesday, was set to play the “Arsenio Hall Show” with his mentor Thursday, and may well be on hand again this evening. Both trumpeters were heard with mutes in Gillespie’s “Brother K,” which now includes lyrics sung and written by Gillespie. The two then played a delightful musical tennis match in “And Then She Stopped.”

Watching these men on stage, one is impressed by the fact that far from being envious of Faddis’ “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Higher” technique. Gillespie watches him in paternal admiration. His pride is understandable; after all, younger men like Faddis symbolize the incalculable influence Gillespie has exercised on jazz for almost a half century.

He closes Saturday.