Groovin’ High

Dizzy Gillespie took a sextet into the studio on February 9, 1945 and recorded two new compositions, “Groovin’ High”, a medium-tempo tune based on the chord changes of “Whispering” (written in 1920), and “Blue ‘N’ Boogie”. In his book Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie, Donald L. Maggin states, “Dizzy created a complex arrangement for ‘Groovin’ High’, which became one of his most enduring hits; it features a six-bar introduction, three key changes, transitional passages between solos and a half-tone coda, and demonstrates his ability to fashion interesting textures using only six instruments.”

Gary Giddins, in his book Visions of Jazz: The First Century, states that “Dizzy once said that he may have gotten the idea for ‘Groovin’s High’ from watching a series of morning shows from his childhood (with Yakima Canutt, he thought) whose theme was ‘Whispering’.”

In his book Inside Jazz, Leonard Feather says: “The last four trumpet bars of ‘Groovin’ High’ later provided Tadd Dameron with part of the theme for a beautiful ballad recorded by Sarah Vaughan, ‘If You Could See Me Now'”.

Groovin’ High review home

Jazz critic Scott Yanow concedes that the music included is classic, but dismisses the compilation as a whole, since he considers it “average” due to its brevity, the outdated and lightweight liner notes and because the material presented does not represent the complete sessions. The compilation features Gillespie with a number of combinations and other musicians, including his 1946 big band, Charlie Parker, a sextet with Dexter Gordon and a combo with Sonny Stitt.

Groovin’ High track list

  • “Blue ‘n’ Boogie” (Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Paparelli) – 3:00
  • “Groovin’ High” (Gillespie) – 2:40
  • “Dizzy Atmosphere” (Gillespie) – 2:45
  • “All the Things You Are” (Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern) – 2:52
  • “Hot House” (Tadd Dameron) – 2:27
  • “Salt Peanuts” (Kenny Clarke, Gillespie) – 2:20
  • “Oop Bop Sh’Bam” (Ray Brown, Gil Fuller, Gillespie) – 3:06
  • “That’s Earl, Brother” (Brown, Fuller, Gillespie) – 2:55
  • “Things to Come” (Fuller, Gillespie) – 2:47
  • “One Bass Hit, Pt. 2” (Brown, Fuller, Gillespie) – 2:46
  • “Ray’s Idea” (Brown, Fuller, Gillespie) – 3:09
  • “Our Delight” (Dameron) – 2:40
  • “Emanon” (Gillespie, Shaw) – 3:11

Artists featured on the Groovin’ High album

  • Ray Abrams – tenor saxophone
  • Taswell Baird – trombone
  • John Brown – alto saxophone
  • Ray Brown – bass
  • Slam Stewart – bass
  • Dave Burns – trumpet
  • Scoops Carey – alto saxophone
  • Big Sid Catlett – drums
  • Kenny Clarke – drums
  • Cozy Cole – drums
  • Leon Cormenge – trombone
  • Talib Dawud – trumpet
  • Kenny Dorham – trumpet
  • Bill Frazier – saxophone
  • Dizzy Gillespie – trumpet, leader
  • Dexter Gordon – tenor saxophone
  • Al Haig – piano
  • Joe Harris – drums
  • Clyde Hart – piano
  • Milt Jackson – vibraphone
  • Howard E. Johnson – alto saxophone
  • Yujiro Kasai – remastering
  • John Lewis – piano
  • Warren Lucky – tenor saxophone
  • John Lynch – trumpet
  • Shelly Manne – drums
  • Matthew McKay – trumpet
  • Alton Moore – trombone
  • Raymond Orr – trumpet
  • Remo Palmieri – guitar
  • Frank Paparelli – piano
  • Charlie Parker – alto saxophone
  • Leo Parker – baritone saxophone
  • Curly Russell – bass
  • Murray Shipinski – bass
  • Sonny Stitt – alto saxophone
  • Gordon Thomas – trombone
  • Lucky Thompson – tenor saxophone
  • Rudy Van Gelder – remastering
  • Chuck Wayne – guitar
  • Elmon Wright – trumpet

Groovin High sheet music

Discover the Groovin High score:

Dizzy Gillespie - Groowin High

March 1945: 2nd recording

In March 1945, Dizzy recorded this tune again, this time at the head of a quintet featuring Charlie Parker. According to Maggin, “the cover of ‘Groovin’ High’ makes a significant change in the complex arrangement. Dizzy reduces his chorus to allow [guitarist Remo] Palmieri a short improvisation. Once again, Dizzy and Bird managed to create a magical theme in unison, and each performed complex melodic improvisations over the invariable swing rhythm.”

December 1945: 3rd recording

In December 1945, Dizzy recorded this tune again at Billy Berg’s club in Los Angeles with Stan Levey, Ray Brown, Charlie Parker and Al Haig (Milt Jackson was present but did not play this tune). “Freed from the three-minute constraints of the 78 rpm record, the musicians stretched out on tunes that lasted about five minutes. They were all in top form and offered a culmination to a year of outstanding bebop recordings,” explains Maggin.

Dizzy and Bird, backed by John Lewis, Al McKibbon and Joe Harris, performed “Groovin’ High” on September 29, 1947, to an enthusiastic audience at Carnegie Hall. In the ’50s, Gillespie toured the world and was greeted by enthusiastic audiences in Paris (1952) and Brazil (1956). In 1982, he performed “Groovin’ High” with Stan Getz at the White House.

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