Wednesday, September 29, 2004:

You make me dizzy

Dizzy Gillespie -- Manteca
Dizzy Gillespie -- Rutabaga Pie
As you probably know, "manteca" means "butter" in Spanish.
  Butter "Manteca"
smooth like butter? yes yes
hot? sometimes yes
funky? no yes
flavorful? yes yes
offensive to vegans? yes no
exacerbates heart disease? yes no*
can you live off it? no no
comes to sudden stops in a way that begs people to shout out "Manteca"? no yes

Well, it looks to me like "Manteca" won.

And then here's this track closing out Sweet Soul Live. My first thought on putting on the CD was "damn, Dizzy got soft." Second thought was "I mean soft!" I listened to it once and put it away, and it languished for weeks in a stack of CDs on a desk, in with several other stacks of CDs.

On rediscovering the CD this morning, I decided to give it another spin; and I haven't decided if my original impression was a little uncharitable: like judging haiku by epic criteria: "let's see, no battles ... no heroism ... no panaroma...."

This is Dizzy in concert in 1969, at a time when jazz/funk/fusion was something relatively new. I don't think this disc will stand out in comparison to Dizzy's other work--Dizzy isn't working with Monk and Davis here, casually throwing a boulder across a river. Dizzy's clearly aiming for fun and not much more, and I keep thinking that's a bit disappointing from someone so talented. This disc is a wine cooler when what I wanted was whiskey; it strikes me as sort of a musical postcard: "The beaches are great, not many people around, water is so blue it looks fake. Yesterday we found this little bar with hammocks out front. Wish you were here." The band doesn't spend much time fleshing anything out; the songs are brief and mostly forgettable.

Yet the disc has a couple of good tracks on it. Here's one of them, a little slice of joie de vivre about, you guessed it, rutabaga pie. I like the handclaps, and that horn blows so hard it rattles; that must be some damn good rutabaga pie (much better than the spinach pie at the Lebanese joint down the street; all that has me singing is "I know I just saw a salt shaker.") The rhythm bounces along, happy-go-lucky, everything coming up roses, and so what if it keeps reminding me of Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk"?

Word to the wise: this track is ripe for a remix.

*actually, most people never eat enough vinyl or plastic to find out.
So why won't Dizzy go back to Georgia?
[Sweet Soul Live]
[Verve Jazz Masters 10]


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