Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Eckstine payed contrasting tributes to Earl Hines at the Smithsonian last night.
Gillespie's musical offering was in a fashionably contemporary format of over-miked electric bass and flashy drums. Unaccountably, the bluesy guitar of Ed Cherry was seldom featured. One or two brief verbal allusions to the late pianist and only one tune associated with him, "Second Balcony Jump," were the sum of the trumpeter's homage.
Eckstine, on the other hand, delivered a warm, relaxed and anecdotal reminiscence of his association with Hines during the early '40s, and most of his musical selections recalled that era.
Gillespie's chops and skills were in splendid order on "Night in Tunisia," "Brother King" and other pieces. He made use of air-splitting shrieks, half-valve whimpers, muted whispers and runs at death-defying speed.
With Eckstine it is voice as voice that one hears rather than instrumental imitation. And what a voice. Yet as big as it is, he can shrink it in a half-breath to a kitten's purr. His "Sophisticated Lady," backed only by the piano of Bobby Tucker, was majestic in its understatement. Bassist Steve Novosel and drummer Bill Reichenbach gave first-class support throughout the vocalist's set.