Monday, February 13, 2006


This email release was contributed by Christin McCabe with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra

By David Rickert
During Prohibition, Kansas City was the wildest place in America . “If you want to see sin, forget about Paris ,” said a reporter for the Omaha Herald, “go to Kansas City .” Boss Pendergast, the head of the city, had ties to organized crime and created a town filled with brothels, bars, and gambling dens the likes of which haven’t been seen since. Of course, all these joints created plenty of work for musicians, who came from all over the country to take advantage of the liberal atmosphere. Count Basie, Lester Young, and Ben Wesbter all developed their chops here, and it was in this city that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie first crossed paths. There won’t be any brothels or gambling dens when the Columbus Jazz Orchestra performs Bird & Diz, but there will be plenty of hot big band jazz in the spirit of the two greats. Both Parker and Gillespie got their start in big bands: Parker with Jay McShann’s Orchestra and Gillespie with Cab Calloway’s outfit, but both soon yearned to push boundaries past the swing music they were currently playing. Once they got to New York , the rest, as they say, was history. But Gillespie still itched to perform with a big band, and after he and Parker parted ways, he introduced Afro-Cuban music with his orchestra in the forties. For the rest of his career, Gillespie frequently returned to the big band music he loved. For Bird & Diz the CJO will feature plenty of tunes from the Gillespie songbook, like the classics “Con Alma,” “Salt Peanuts,” and “Woody ‘n’You.” There will also be the usual well-known standards, all delivered in the terrific CJO style. Joining the CJO this time around will be Jeff Clayton, saxophonist and brother of frequent CJO collaborator John Clayton, and trumpeter Claudio Roditi. Both will be on hand to help recreate the spirited music of the Gillespie/Parker era. Also on stage will be the incredible pianist/singer Dena DeRose. We hope you can join us for a wonderful evening of great big band jazz.

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