The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Bands are direct descendants of trumpet master Dizzy Gillespie and happily, the tradition lives on. Nurtured by Gillespie alumnus, executive director and producer, bassist John Lee. Together they continue to delight audiences around the world with the enduring power and freshness of Dizzy Gillespie’s music. This is the legacy the master would have wanted—and a living tribute from the many extraordinary musicians in this group who exemplify his style, range, passion and commitment. Executive director John Lee had a close association with Dizzy, serving as his bassist for the last decade of Dizzy’s life, in his small groups as well as the Grammy Award winning United Nation Orchestra and Dizzy’s classic Big Band.
The Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars debuted in 1996, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band in 1998 and the latest venture celebrating Dizzy Gillespie’s music debuted in the fall of 2012, the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Latin Experience.
The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Bands feature some of Dizzy’s close compatriots as well as some of the fastest rising next generation talents in Jazz today.
2019 Grammy Award winner and Dizzy Gillespie’s long-time bassist, John Lee, leads the All-Star Bands and for this special SOPAC Sessions concert, he has brought together a few of the All-Stars: Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Freddie Hendrix on trumpet and flugelhorn, Steve Davis on trombone and Tommy Campbell on the drums.
Cyrus Chestnut – Piano
Pianist Cyrus Chestnut can do it all. Equally adept playing with trios, small groups, big bands, vocalists, or alone, he tackles a broad range of styles with both taste and intelligence. He is highly-regarded as the greatest Jazz pianist of his generation and universally recognized as one of the leading Jazz pianists in the world. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, his many credits include work with Kathleen Battle, Terence Blanchard, Betty Carter, Chico Freeman, Dizzy Gillespie, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Bands, Donald Harrison, Jon Hendricks, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, The Turtle Bay String Quartet and Joe Williams among many others. He is a noted Jazz educator and currently professor of piano at Howard University in Washington, DC. Cyrus has released over 30 solo recordings to date.
Freddie Hendrix – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Over the past two decades, Freddie Hendrix has become one of the most in demand trumpeters in Jazz and beyond. Also an accomplished composer, arranger and educator, the Teaneck, New Jersey native’s skill and versatility has resulted in him working with a wide array of performers that range from the Count Basie Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, the Christian McBride Big Band, the Roy Hargrove Big Band and the Heath Brothers, to Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys. A product of the esteemed Jazz program at William Paterson University, with a Masters in Jazz Studies and Performance from New Jersey City University, Hendrix also shares his knowledge and passion for the music by serving as a faculty member at the The New School in New York and Jazz House Kids, in Montclair, New Jersey.
John Lee – Bass & Director
From 1984 thru 1993, John Lee was Dizzy Gillespie’s bassist. Performing and recording in the trumpet master’s various bands including the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and Dizzy’s Grammy Award winning United Nation Orchestra. After Dizzy’s passing, his family asked John to create an ongoing tribute to the great man and his music—and the concept for the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars was born. John is the bassist and director of the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band and the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience. He has also worked in the bands of Gary Bartz, Larry Coryell, Jon Faddis, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Gambarini, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Gregory Hines, Claudio Roditi, Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner. John is also a Grammy Award winning record producer and audio engineer. He has produced over 100 recordings and is the co-founder of the record label JLP, Jazz Legacy Productions.
Steve Davis – Trombone
Steve Davis is widely regarded as one of today’s leading voices on the trombone. Davis has worked with Jazz luminaries such as Art Blakey, Jackie McLean, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton, Hank Jones, Cecil Payne and Benny Golson. Raised in Binghamton, New York, Steve has performed at major venues around the world and appears on over 150 recordings, including 20 as a leader. Steve also continues to work regularly with One For All, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, the Ron Carter Big Band,and the Christian McBride big band. A long-time educator, Steve has guided a broad range of emerging musicians at the Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Jazz Studies Division, University of Hartford, Connecticut, where he was recently honored for over 25 years of service.
Tommy Campbell – Drums
Tommy Campbell was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. His father was an organist and singer and his uncle is Jimmy Smith, the renowned Hammond B-3 master. After graduating high school he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he later returned as an instructor of drums and received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Tommy lived and worked in Paris, France in the 1980s. He later spent 13 years working in Tokyo, Japan. He has worked in the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, John McLaughlin, The Manhattan Transfer, Kevin Eubanks, Jimmy Smith, Stanley Jordan, Tania Maria, Gary Burton, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Bands and a host of other Jazz greats. As an educator Tommy has also taught at the Drummer’s Collective and The New School of New York City.
SOPAC Sessions is a livestream series of concerts coming to you directly from the SOPAC stage! These events, often featuring some of our most beloved SOMA-based performers, will bring the excitement of a night out at SOPAC right in to your living room. SOPAC Sessions will be free for SOPAC members and just $10 per ticket link for non-members.