Dizzy Gillespie – Closer to the Source
Dizzy Gillespie’s 'Closer to the Source' first came to my attention in the ‘Quiet Storm’ section of a late night radio show.
The music marks a distinct departure from the busy bebop style Gillespie is more closely associated with, as he turns his attention to laid-back music with a funk / smooth jazz feel.
Although it only has seven tracks and plays for a mere 38 minutes, this 1984 album has contributions from Stevie Wonder – who does a remarkable harmonica solo on the title track – Branford Marsalis and Marcus Miller, and contains what must be one of the coolest numbers ever for trumpet, with a correspondingly exquisite title – You’re No. 1 in My Book.
Part of the appeal of this track is its simplicity. The punctuated bass line and slow moving keyboard chords, combined with intermittent flute and synthesizer figures, set a backdrop for Dizzy’s muted trumpet. Only as we approach the climax is the mute removed for tonal contrast. Throughout the piece Gillespie shows great restraint, at no point allowing his instrumental dexterity to impinge on the relaxed feel of the music – the mark of a true master.
Although the American jazz reviewer Scott Yanow regards 'Closer to the Source' as a thrown together throw-away album which is ‘quite forgettable’, I don’t agree. More than 30 years after its release I still get great pleasure from the tracks, as I’m sure will anyone who has this album in their own personal ‘Quiet Storm’ collection.
At the time of writing (June 2015) this album is still available from Amazon.