The Dizzy Gillespie Songbook is a very special and heartfelt concert program that features a collection of songs selected by Jeanie to celebrate her father's 90th birthday.
The idea for a concert honoring her father was initially proposed by the long-time artistic director of the Guinness Jazz Festival, Jack McGouran, who made the suggestion, knowing that 2007 would have been Dizzy's 90th birthday. "Have you ever considered doing a tribute to your father?" he asked. "I think it is a wonderful concept, and I feel people would love to hear you sing your father’s music!"
He promptly offered to feature Jeanie and her band in the 2007 festival line-up.
In considering Jack's suggestion, Jeanie thought about the last time her father heard her sing - it was in the late 80's, and Dizzy surprised Jeanie by coming to see her perform in a small club in New York. He was accompanied by her agents, Abby Hoffer and Steve Getz, who brought along his father, the great Stan Getz!
As Steve tells it, after the set, Dizzy leaned over to Stan with a big smile on his face and said '" Man, she sounds just like me!" Stan just looked at him, let out a big laugh and said, “No way, Birks, she sounds more like Miles!"
Everyone got a big kick out of that comment, but in a way it was true - Jeanie's approach to singing WAS more like Miles.
Her strength was her interpretation of lyrics - her mother, songwriter Connie Bryson, had taught her well in that department.
But how could she sing an entire concert of her father’s music when so little of it had lyrics? The challenge for Jeanie in putting this project together was how to meld her approach to music with her father’s, making it fit.
Critics noticed Jeanie's special gift for interpretation.
Peter Watrous of the New York Times reviewed Jeanie’s debut performance at the Village Vanguard in NYC, and titled the review "A Singer Who Finds Beauty in Sparseness." He described her as " a rare musician who knows how to edit herself, to turn nuance and suggestion into statements of power....she has created a performance language rare in its ability to portray desire and humor as a part of everyday life - and the effect is intimacy".
When Jeanie returned from Ireland, she began to think about which songs she could sing that would reflect her father's diversity and creativity and also be true to her musical style and perspective. "It was a wonderful challenge”, says Jeanie, "to pick the tunes that felt right. I broadened my scope to include some classic standards my father loved to play on gigs, even if he hadn't written them.
He once told me that "Round Midnight" was his favorite song! I wanted to pay tribute to my father's musical legacy, but not lose my own identity in the process. Most of all, I wanted to evoke his joyful spirit, his sense of FUN, and really make people feel his presence in the music we were making up there onstage!"
Jeanie has succeeded, and the result is her concert program "The Dizzy Gillespie Songbook."
Jeanie's concert songlist runs from the playful "Umbrella Man" and "Ooh Bop Sh' Bam", to timeless ballads like "Lover Man" and "I Can't Get Started", to Gillespie originals such as "A Night In Tunisia" and "Birks Works".
We invite you to join Jeanie in this intimate, loving and fitting tribute, as she celebrates her father's life, his music, and above all, his legacy.
Additionally, the the beautiful and moving documentary film "A Night in Havana - Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba" is being made available by its award-winning producers for screening in conjunction with Jeanie's concert. Please contact the producers (www.studio-on-hudson.com) directly for more details.
For information about A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba please visit Studio-On-Hudson www.studio-on-hudson.com. To order the DVD, please visit Amazon.com