Gigi Gryce: La Rose Noire


La Rose Noire


Gigi Gryce (alto sax)


Lucky Thompson & Gigi Gryce In Paris (Vogue 09026-68216-2)

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Gigi Gryce (alto sax),

Jimmy Cleveland (trombone), Anthony Ortega (alto sax, flute), Clifford Solomon (tenor sax), Quincy Jones (piano), Pierre Michelot (bass), Alan Dawson (drums)


Composed and arranged by Quincy Jones


Recorded: Paris, September 28, 1953


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

A twenty-year old Quincy Jones was already showing his influential ability as an astute arranger on this session with altoist Gigi Gryce on this retooled version of the classic “Summertime” dubbed “La Rose Noire”.

Gryce was a classically trained musician who at one time had entertained thoughts of entering a career in medicine. In 1953 Lionel Hampton had taken a celebrated band to Europe that included Clifford Brown and Gryce. Gryce was a sought after arranger in his own right, having done work for both Max Roach and Stan Getz.

While on tour, Gryce recorded with this band including members of Hamp’s band and some local Parisian musicians. The Hampton-pilfered rhythm section finds Jones on piano and a young Alan Dawson (of Berklee teaching fame) on drums. Trombonist Jimmy Cleveland takes a dynamic muted solo at the start that is poignantly passionate before the very swinging band turns the rumba-turned-blues into a real cooker. Gryce follows the inspired Cleveland solo with his own alto statement that comes out and rises on smoothly built phrasing with precise intonation before taking a brief run of double time in a slight tilt of his hat to the growing bebop language of the day. The band returns to Cleveland and fades out until Jones punctuates his arrangement with a short piano statement at the coda.

Gryce’s jazz career was brief but noteworthy. He retreated from the mainstream to teaching on Long Island. He is believed to have changed his name to the Muslim Basheer Quisim while he was in Paris. Besides being a lyrical and talented player, he was also one of the first black musicians to own his own publishing company, Melotone.

Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello

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