Balancing A Playful Spirit & Serious Musicianship: Dizzy Gillespie Playing Chega de Saudade

by chipboaz on May 15, 2017

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The modern jazz world has often stumbled when considering the idea of entertainment value in regards to music and performance. We’ve turned our eyes towards pop culture and often tried to emulate the way that pop musicians please their fans. Unfortunately, that’s an insincere way to connect with your audience, and for jazz musicians, one that doesn’t reflect the inner soul of their music. This often comes at an even bigger cost as well – the diluting of the musical foundation in the desire to reach a wider audience. At the end of the day, this could lean to some instant gratification, but it’s not a sustainable model for artists or the genre as a whole. With that being said, jazz doesn’t need to be a stuffy museum piece; that entertainment needs to come from an authentic place and arrive hand in hand with musical ability.

There probably hasn’t been a bigger personality in the world of jazz since Dizzy Gillespie, and certainly very few musicians that have matched his technical prowess on his instrument. Anyone with even a passing interest in jazz knows Dizzy’s playful spirit as well as the way that he provided comic relief and entertainment value. The difference with Dizzy is that his upbeat – and sometimes goofy – nature came directly from his joy around playing the music and he certainly knew when to stop the games and get down to business. He always based everything upon a concrete knowledge of music, and he never stopped learning. He had the insight to push bebop harmony and melody towards the future, he helped bring Afro-Cuban rhythms into the mixture, he embraced Brazilian music, and so much more; he did all of this with the highest standard for musical performance. That’s why even now, years past Dizzy’s death, it’s still a pleasure to see and hear him play music, making it fun at every turn – that’s exactly what happens here in today’s video feature as Dizzy and his band tear through a Jobim classic, “Chega de Saudade.”

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