Dizzy Gillespie And “Brother K”

Everything else in life has not quite come to a standstill while I race the deadline for the Dizzy Gillespie project mentioned in the “Sweet Lorraine” post of September 20. It only seems that way.

Researching Gillespie’s “Brother K,” his tribute to Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, I encountered a 1985 video known to few, if the low number of YouTube hits is reliable evidence. Robert Farnon conducts Dizzy and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra not in one of Farnon’s own celebrated arrangements, but in a setting for the piece by the under-recognized Mike Crotty. The volume could be higher; you may want to crank up your speakers.

More to come.

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  1. says

    Thanks for posting an arrangement by a brilliant composer-arranger who is one of my closest friends. I tell people that I went to the University of Mike Crotty.

    Mike arranged this and Dizzy’s “Fiesta Mojo” for symphony orchestra. They were recorded in 1989 for a Gillespie CD called THE SYMPHONY SESSIONS with the Rochester Philharmonic, conducted by John Dankworth.

  2. says

    Lovely! And on a nearby YouTube upload from the same concert, listen to “Con Alma,” with the arrangement done by Farnon himself. It helped to watch it without my reading glasses, so the out-of-sync wasn’t so disturbing. But listen to that gorgeous orchestral background, and sweet Dizzy, with a rosebud in his lapel, enjoying the ride.

  3. says

    Great post Doug! The string/reed intro is so warm …

    Coincidence or not? Compare Dizzy’s entrance at 1:19 in the youtube clip to the opening of Amandla (Live in Italy) from Miles Davis: Live Around The World. Uncanny similarity both harmonically and melodically! It also sounds to me like a bit of “Concierto de Aranjeuz” (Sketches of Spain) in the resolution of Dizzy’s opening phrase …

    I don’t think the two greats ever stopped listening to what the other was playing.

  4. says

    Every arranger’s nightmare. 80 musicians wiped out by loud drums and an over-amplified bass. The opening of the arrangement is Ravel’s intro to “Daphnis et Chloe.”

  5. says

    I remember BEING there and seem to recall that the ‘other’ half of the concert was Dizzy with his United Nations Orchestra. The Royal Philharmonic was augmented by a jazz rhythm section with, I think, a bass and guitar -plus Martin Drew on drums and John Taylor at the piano, visible here.

    Not shown in this clip, but in the ‘Con Alma’ clip, are the Royal guests, The Duke and Duchess of Kent.. There was a TV broadcast – not live.

  6. Red Sullivan says

    No, not The United Nations Orcestra at this concert (although they did play the same theatre in 1989) – rather Bud Shank was the evening’s other guest soloist…………. There’s Shank’s version of Body and Soul on flute from this same night – and it’s wonderful (although the great genius, Farnon, didn’t conduct for Shank, rather Vic Lewis).

    Dizzy and Farnon were great and very particular friends, dating back to, I believe, the late ’30s, before Farnon left Canada. Dizzy was early to spot Farnon’s genius, and had huge reverence for him – as had Benny Carter, JJ Johnson, André Previn, on and on and on… In fact Farnon is every arranger’s number 1. Ask Johnny Mandel – every one of them, in fact…
    (I wonder, is there any other figure, in all of music, who is UNIVERSALLY and unanimously regarded as simply “Thee number 1” in the given field by his peers, as is Farnon?

    Charlie Parker, in his, would be another, I guess…).