Happy Birthday Dizzy Reece

January 05, 1931

A tribute to the underrated British trumpeter

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Trumpeter Alphonso “Dizzy” Reece was born January 5, 1931 in Kingston, Jamaica.

Reece played baritone horn for a few years before switching to trumpet when he was 14, working in Jamaica with Jack Brown’s swing band in 1947.

He moved to Europe the following year, played with Don Byas during 1949-50, and worked throughout the continent with various bebop groups.

Reece moved to London in 1954 where he played with Kathy Stobart, Terry Shannon, Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists and Tony Crombie’s big band, recording as a leader for the Tempo label, spending periods of time living in Paris, Portugal and London, and working with some of Europe’s top bop musicians including Martial Solal and Victor Feldman.

Dizzy Reece, who recorded Blues In Trinity with the visiting Donald Byrd in 1958, moved to the United States in October 1959.

Reece’s arrival generated an outburst of publicity, and he recorded two strong albums for Blue Note during 1959-60 and an additional set for New Jazz in 1962 but, despite being an expert hard bop player, he never really caught on big.

Reece toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band in 1968, was part of the Paris Reunion band in 1985, played with the Clifford Jordan big band in the early 1990s, and was active for decades but has remained consistently overlooked despite his talents.

He is featured playing “Manhattan Walk” from his 1978 album Manhattan Project (his most recent recording), leading a sextet also featuring Clifford Jordan and Charles Davis on tenors, pianist Albert Dailey, bassist Art Davis and drummer Roy Haynes.

-Scott Yanow


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