The Quintet: A Night in Tunisia
A Night in Tunisia
Jazz at Massey Hall (Debut DCD-124-2)
Composed by Dizzy Gillespie & Frank Paparelli.
Recorded: Toronto, Canada, May 15, 1953
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
In theory, when you join a bunch of all-star musicians into a band you are going to get some great music. In practice, however, more times than one would expect, these gatherings of legends don't quite work. First, you have to deal with the extra-large egos that most legends have. The founding fathers on hand for this 1953 bebop reunion were certainly no exception. The spotlight has only so much room in it. Second, even assuming all are well behaved, the rehearsal time needed to bring the best cohesion into an all-star unit may not be available. This is true even of players who have performed together often in the past. These factors, and others, must be considered when listening to recordings of this nature. So, yes, this performance of "A Night in Tunisia" was not as tight as it could have been. There are open spaces and some relaxed turns that at times almost threaten to take the bop away. But jazz itself was changing. These players were not immune to that reality, and I think it shows a bit in this rendition. So add that to the equation as well. But still you find yourself listening intently as each artist displays his individual brilliance. This is history, man! These cats would be good in any era or in any genre. Even if Dizzy and Bird et al. were just going through the motions (which I am not suggesting applies in this case), they would still be great. They had it together even if they weren't that together.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky