Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, N.J.) - October 17, 2008

Daughter salutes Dizzy Gillespie in Trenton

Bryson's musical pedigree shows on latest CD

By ED CONDRAN • Correspondent • October 17, 2008

Sometimes you can't deny the obvious. When Jeanie Bryson was growing up in New Brunswick, she planned on going to law school. She studied anthropology at Rutgers, but all the while it was evident that the daughter of jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and songwriter Connie Bryson had music in her blood. It was just a matter of time until Bryson became a recording artist.

"I really have no other skills aside from music," Bryson said during a telephone interview from her New Brunswick home. "So it was kind of inevitable for me. I didn't realize it until I was in my 20s. My parents did what they loved, which was music. It was my turn to do what I love, which is music as well. It runs in the family."

It's not surprising that the jazz singer's latest album is "The Dizzy Gillespie Songbook." The ode to her father's remarkable canon, to be showcased tonight at the Haberdashery at the Trenton War Memorial, is especially noteworthy since much of Gillespie's music didn't include lyrics.

"That was a challenge," Bryson said. "At times it was really hard, but I was moved to do this."

"My mom taught me a lot about lyrics. She's so good with words," she continued. "For me, it was more than words, it was about bringing my father's spirit to the music. This is something I needed to do for my father."

Bryson recalled Gillespie as someone who "was wonderful to be around. He was such a larger-than-life figure. I always loved being around him. I can still hear his laughter. His attitude and presence were amazing. He was a wonderful man and his music is just so inspiring. It was time to pay my respects to my father's music."

Died in '93

It was the 90th anniversary of Gillespie's birth in 2007 (he died in 1993) that moved his daughter to record his music.

"I just thought it was a wonderful idea," Bryson said. "He supported my move to music."

During the late '80s, Gillespie surprised his daughter by popping in on one of her performances at a Manhattan club. After the set he marveled to legendary tenor saxophonist Stan Getz that his daughter sounded just like him.

 

"Stan laughed and said, "No way, she sounds more like (late great trumpeter) Miles (Davis)," Bryson said.

 

The sultry singer, who adds pop and Latin to her jazz, isn't certain what she'll do next, but she has a feeling that it will be an eclectic project.

 

"I like doing different things," Bryson said. "Jazz singers usually stick to a certain sound. That's why I love someone like Cassandra Wilson, who will sing a Phoebe Snow song or a Stevie Wonder song and not worry about the jazz police. My dad didn't worry about whatever he did either. He just did what he felt he had to do. That's the way I am too."

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