Tribute albums and jazz mix about as well as oil and water. Jazz demands being oneself and, at the highest level, selflessness. Tribute albums imply the assumption of another’s characteristics. Trumpeter Dave Douglas now has considerable experience solving that conundrum, so his Dizzy Atmosphere is not so much an homage to Dizzy Gillespie as a set of compositions and performances that couldn’t have emerged had Dizzy not come first. Two of Diz’s pieces are included: the much loved Manteca and little-heard Pickin’ the Cabbage.
The originals either reference a Gillespie composition (however obliquely), or exemplify Douglas taking elements of the pioneer’s rhythmic and harmonic language and running with them, while passing the baton around his sextet. The upshot is unmistakably a Douglas album, with his love of mixing surging rhythms, angular lines and sections that float by like white clouds across a summer sky. Second trumpeter Dave Adewui, guitarist Matt Stevens, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Carmen Rothwell and brilliant drummer Joey Barron complete the cast. As Dizzy said, “The idea of life is to give and to receive.”