WHILE THE TITLE of Dizzy Gillespie's new album, "Closer to the Source," may signal to some listeners the trumpeter's return to blistering bebop, nothing could be farther from the truth.
In fact, here we find Gillespie in the most contemporary of settings, surrounded by pop, funk and jazz men like Stevie Wonder, bassist Marcus Miller and tenor saxophonist Branford Marsalis. And, for the most part, he's playing lovely, melodic solos over arrangements that are awash in synthesizers and soft percussion.
The album's title song, in fact, is the most conspicuously commercial effort, thanks to Wonder's insinuating harmonica, Gillespie's muted horn and a rather mindlessly repetitive lyric sung by Angel Rogers.
Far more rewarding for jazz fans is Kenny Kirkland's bright reworking of the Gamble and Huff tune "It's Time for Love," which features both Gillespie and Marsalis, and the latter's arrangement of Herbie Hancock's aptly titled "Textures."
In the end, though, it's hard to ignore all the pop trappings. While fans of contemporary, fusion-based jazz will probably enjoy hearing Gillespie head in that direction, longtime admirers may find it all a bit too fashionable for their tastes.
DIZZY GILLESPIE -- "Closer to the Source" (Atlantic 7 81646-1); appearing through Sunday at Blues Alley.