Review Summary: this album rocks!, wooooooo
Dizzy mother***in Gillespie is featured with an absolutely mesmerizing quartet. He is backed by Leo Wright on alto sax, Lalo Schfrin on piano, Bob Cunningham on bass, and Chuck Lampkin on drums. If you are like me you're probably thinking who the *** are these guys? And if you also like me you are about to be completely mind ***ed by these hardcore mother***ers. They really put together an amazing post-bop album. Bob Cunningham usually holds down entire songs with repeating, ingeniously exotic, and hypnotic basslines. If you don't believe me that he's seriously that amazing, just put on the first track and keep an extra pair of pants nearby.
Unfortunately for my fellow stoners, this song was not written about a strain headies, but titled after the ancient Kush civilization. However, I would be willing to say that not only does this song compete with any type of kush, it kicks the *** out of it. I don't mean to put bud down, because this song isn't better than top notch strains(kush wasn't that great for me), but this is an amazing song. Anyway... lets start the damn song. He kicks it all off by having dramatic one chord openings accompanied by Leo on some flute, which altogether make it very much like Coltrane's Alabama(if you don't know what that is GO OUT AND BUY COLTRANE LIVE AT BIRDLAND). Then Bob comes in alone on his double bass. I don't think they could've gotten a more perfect sounding bass than Bob's low, almost muted bass. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you will understand it immediately when you hear it. This is what everybody solos off of, his constant driving bassline that haunts your brain and you're just immediately spellbound. Then both Diz and Leo trade off middle eastern/egytian themed solos, with sparse commentary from Lalo. Diz really plays his solo hushed and cool. Leo is louder and a little more aggressive than Diz, although I enjoyed Diz's style more. Then they harmonize softly into an even quieter Diz where he slowly builds his volume back up. Unfortunately some of the parts are so soft you can barely hear them even with head phones on. Then they all drop out for a short applause break, and you think it's over. Again Bob comes back in a higher register, and even more aggressive plucking. Lalo starts pounding out short chords, while Leo plays repeating trills and you think Leo's gonna go into his solo as they all build up. Wrong mother***er. Diz comes straight in wailing and screaming in an almost desperate frenzy calms back down into the beginning of his solo. This is again a more hushed solo that he's been playing throughout. Shortly after Leo comes back in with a fresh explosion of energy. He of course settles back down, but finds some harsh screeches on his alto to melt your mind. Diz now comes in with simple but delicious lines under Leo. The quiet back down into Leo going much more middle eastern for short bit, and settles back down into his ordinary style. He then quiets down and leaves Lalo to solo. Lalo plays disconsonant chords and pounds back in with Take 5 like piano chords. This leads off into another piano break before Diz and Leo come in in unison(it looks really weird having to in's). They fall back and Lalo comes in quietly, then drops out for Diz. He goes a little more bluesy here, and then into more abstract eastern sounds, trills, and slides. Finally they end it with brushing dramatic piano chords, again like the ending of Alabama. This time it actually ends.
Salt Peanuts: (4.4/5)
Don't expect me to write as much for this, I just really loved Kush. This piece is much more upbeat, peppy, and famous. The best part of this song is probably Diz singing "salt peanuts, salt peanuts". It's very oddly structured and upbeat, quirky in that Thelonious Monk kind of way. All the solos make it sounds more like a normal song though especially when Bob grounds things with a more familiar walking bassline; they are all bluesy and upbeat. It's a nice, light hearted song and everybody here plays great, but I don't think there's as much to say about this song. At least they end it with the zany singing part.
A Night in Tunisia: (4.7/5)
This is probably Dizzy Gillespie's most famous composition, and I probably like this one better than when he first did it with Bird. It starts off with the infamous bassline, and then Leo of flute, Lalo, and Diz all come in together. Then Diz plays the main theme over top all of them. After awhile they all drop out for Diz's trumpet break. He comes in on a loud, bright squeel and goes into his solo. He does a great job and it's a lot more like the Bird version now. Lalo comes in on occasion for rhythmic accompaniment. There are some fantastic improvised progressions which you only come to expect from someone like Diz. Then Leo comes in for his solo, much faster too. Then Diz and Leo play a bridge together with some explosive drumming from Chuck. The horns drop out for a nice bass solo from Bob. They then all quiet down for the powerful ending, and of course it's followed by applause.
It all starts off with Chuck all alone, and then Bob comes in with another Kush-like bassline. After a couple measures Diz and Leo come in with a cool harmony. Bob also breaks far away from his original line. It is a nicely composed part which pops into a more typical jazz progression and walking bassline. They all play together great as usual. There's another bass solo from Bob, but unfortunately for him I'm not really a big fan of bass solos, and his were not phenomenal. Then it dives right into the previous progression, with a more standard solo from Leo. I think Bob's bassline here is more entertaining than his solo. If you can get into blues standards in jazz you'll definitely enjoy this. After an explosive drum break it queits down into Diz's solo. It's kind of sounds like a cross between Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, but unfortunately not as ungodly amazing that may sound. It's more subdued like miles but more brash in tone like louis. I really enjoyed hearing the bass as the primary rhythm instrument. Lalo only plays a little more accompaniment than Leo and Diz. Lalo's solo is pretty good, but I'm also not a huge fan of piano solos. He builds it up kind of cheesy too, but he makes up for it by bursting into much more rock like playing, like how Jerry Lee Louis pounds away at fifths. Everything then returns into the original Kush-like introduction and ends it that way.
I know if you average it out, it doesn't equal to a 5.0, but the sum of these parts are not as great as the whole. I was really taken back by the tight sound they all managed to put together, and the way they structured the songs. This is an essential album for anybody who enjoys post-bop. Just download this from ruckus in like one minute and listen to it. Don't forget, you seriously will soil your pants listening to this.