REPOST: George Handy Asked 66 Years Ago: “Are you DIGGIN’ DIZ ?”

Wait a minute, dear boppin’ folks … ’cause before we’re coming to that, first listen to the source of the question, namely Rodgers’ & Hart’s LOVER, as played here by the very nicely boppin’ Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra ’round 1949.

I love that chart! And I dig Jimmy’s alto very much. Young Maynard Ferguson can be heard on trumpet.

George Handy? — Who? — I’m gonna tell you: George Handy was one of the most creative composers & arrangers in jazz.

His work can truly be called “Great Americana” at its finest; Handy’s music was influenced by Copeland (who was his teacher), Ellington and …

… Stravinsky. — Yeah! Dig that, folks!

Why his name doesn’t pop up more often in the hall-of-fame listings of great American (jazz) composers/ arrangers may be due to the fact that his most interesting works came out before the introduction of the long playing record: 1945, 1946 & 1947.

Among his many excellent original compositions like “Tonsilectomy” (sic!) – where he inserted a famous Dizzy Gillespie phrase in the initial chart for a small band – one tune stands out as a monolithic bebop masterpiece: Diggin’ Diz.

We can be very happy that the microphone was on during the only surviving (rehearsal) take of a very chaotic, but initial Bird-on-Dial recording session from February 5, 1946:

DIGGIN’ DIZ

Not many words by yours truly anymore, here are the original liners from the above album (click to enlarge):

More about George Handy can be read HERE

As a mighty P.S. another boppin’ Lover-paraphrase by Tadd Dameron:

HALF STEP DOWN PLEASE

Fats Navarro (tp) J.J. Johnson (tb) Budd Johnson (as) Coleman Hawkins (ts) Marion DiVeta (bars) Hank Jones (p) Chuck Wayne (g) Jack Lesberg (b) Max Roach (d) Tadd Dameron (arr) – NYC, December 11, 1947

Feel free to listen to one of his most beautiful arrangements; it’s Hoagy Carmichael’s “Memphis In June” (David Allyn introduces Ginnie Powell who did the main vocal), recorded for Standard Transcriptions in LA, December 1945:

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