Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt Live at Le Cirque Royal

Brussels, 1958

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Dizzy Gillespie — Bandleader, trumpeter

Sonny Stitt — Bandleader, Alto saxophonist, Tenor/baritone saxophonist

Ray Brown — Double bassist

Gus Johnson — Drummer

Lou Levy — Pianist

Program notes

The year is 1958 and the legendary manager Norman Granz was producing an all-star Jazz At the Philharmonic tour around Europe that featured the veritable jazz stars of the day like Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt. The latter two take part in this performance, which took place at Le Cirque Royal in Belgium. Dizzy’s first words, which are designed to settle an already exuberant crown, are simply “asseyez-vous” (sit down). 

From then on the two proceed to conjure a sound that, to modern viewers, evokes a sense of acute, misty-eyed nostalgia. But even for audiences back in 1958 there would have been that same overflowing romance – it was in the 30s and 40s when jazz became this smooth, this melodic and swinging. Fronting a stellar line-up that included the great Ray Brown, Lou Levy and Gus Johnson, the pair deliver timeless pieces such as “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” and “Cocktails For Two.” Charm is an understatement.

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