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Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac

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Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac

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Performer Notes:

  • Personnel: Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet); James Moody (alto & tenor saxophones, flute); Mike Longo (piano); Frank Schifano (electric bass); Candy Finch (drums).
  • Producer: Bob Thiele.
  • Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
  • Recorded live at Memory Lane, Los Angeles, California on May 25 & 26, 1967. Originally released on Impulse! (9149). Includes liner notes by George Hoefer.
  • Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (MCA Music Media Studios).
  • SWING LOW, SWEET CADILLAC is one of the most popular and enduring of Dizzy Gillespie’s many recordings, a live session from 1967 with his working band of the moment, featuring the great James Moody on both alto and tenor saxophones, as well as flute.
  • By 1967 Dizzy had added a keyboardist with a Fender Rhodes electric piano, and a Fender bass to his rhythm section. Frank Schifano’s vamping ostinatos on the extended blowing of “Kush” lend an Afro-Cuban funk feeling to the groove, pointing out just how much contemporary jazz and R&B owes to Gillespie’s Latin breakthroughs of the ’40s. Of course for all the surface similarities, rock and funk bands of that time weren’t employing such complex harmonic devices.
  • In addition, there’s another rollicking Latin excursion on “Mas Que Nada (Pow, Pow, Pow),” the sweet shuffling blues “Bye,” and a curiously refreshing ballad, “Something In Your Smile” (from the movie “Doctor Doolittle”). But the title tune is the centerpiece, with its Chano Pozo-like opening chants, its humorous take off on the call-and-response of the old spirituals, and a righteous boogaloo backbeat to fire up the trumpet-tenor exchanges. It is precisely this balance between good-natured fun and fiery, uncompromising musical intelligence that makes SWING LOW, SWEET CADILLAC such a classic.

Professional Reviews: Q (7/93, p.107) – 3 Stars – Good – “…Gillespie’s partnership with [saxophonist] James Moody is the pivot of the show and they hustle through a mixture of ballads, fast-moving standards and Latin forms with an urge that Gillespie’s studio recordings of later years don’t always exhibit…”

Down Beat (6/96, p.51) – 3 Stars – Good – “…Gillespie…made many of his club and concert-hall appearances extraordinary through a sizzling combination of charismatic personality and superb playing. You get glimmers of this wondrousness hearing [SWING LOW, SWEET CADILLAC,] the chronicle of a half-hour of clowning and jazz…”

Format: CD (1 Disc)

Studio/Live: Live

Guest Artist: James Moody; Mike Longo

Release Date: 1 January, 2009

Label: Documents

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