The list of Dizzy Gillespie's artistic triumphs stretches far into night; the last of them involved his formation of the United Nation Orchestra in 1988, more than 50 years after his first recordings. The U.N. band combines Dizzy's two longest-standing musical passions--the big-band idiom, with its versatility and explosive power, and the rhythmic complexities of Latin America, which he had begun to explore in the late 30s--and in the process brings a unique perspective to the late trumpeter's storied career. What's more, in assembling musicians (and their respective rhythmic traditions) from Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, Gillespie reaped the benefits of seeds he himself had sown, since the awareness of this hemisphere's more "exotic" sounds stems directly from Gillespie's introduction of Afro-Cuban elements to jazz the 40s. The Cuban-born reedman Paquito D'Rivera, a charter member of the United Nation Orchestra, took over its leadership after Dizzy's death; while the lineup includes only one other original sideman (the wondrous saxist Mario Rivera, most often heard in Tito Puente's conjuntos), the band still relies on Slide Hampton's spiffy arrangements, which sail along on the irresistible pan-American pulse. This edition of the band also stars Chicago guitarist Fareed Haque, the soulful Basie-band veteran Byron Stripling on trumpet, the sensational trombonist Conrad Herwig, and percussion master Milton Cardona. Friday through Sunday, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David Gahr.