Arts & Entertainment

West Orange Drummer to Lead 100th Birthday Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie

Credits: Dizzy Gillespie Facebook
Credits: Dizzy Gillespie Facebook

GARWOOD, NJ — The Greg Bufford Quintet, led by West Orange drummer Greg Bufford, will present a “100th Birthday Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie” at The Crossroads in Garwood, NJ on Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. to remember a man known as one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time.

The members of the quintet include: Bufford on drums, James Gibbs on trumpet, Gene Ghee on tenor saxophone, Belden Bullock on bass, and Alva Nelson on piano.

Bufford studied under master jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones and has played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. David Orthmann from “All About Jazz” calls the West Orange resident “an exceptional musician with a personal sound, conception, and feeling for jazz.

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“There are two overlapping sides of Bufford’s musical personality, which he projects simultaneously,” said Orthmann. “On the one hand, he provides a firm rhythmic foundation and generously supports every musician on the bandstand. On the other, Bufford draws on a deep reservoir of rhythms—some boldly executed, others that barely register in the listener’s consciousness—and executes them in mesmerizing ways.”

Gillespie, born on Oct. 21, 1917, in South Carolina, is a 1990 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He and several other jazz musicians, such as alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonius Monk, and drummer Kenny Clarke, developed a new style of jazz in the 1940s, employing complex harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic patterns. He was also a virtuoso trumpet player and one of the first musicians to add Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and Caribbean flavors into jazz.

“Musically, we were changing the way that we spoke, to reflect the way that we felt. Our music had a new accent.” That’s how John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie described the evolution of bebop in his book, "to BE, or not . . . to BOP" (Doubleday & Company: 1979).

The Crossroads, a full bar and restaurant, is located at 78 North Ave. in Garwood. To order tickets to the Dizzy Gillespie Tribute, email or call (908) 518-0323.

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