October 18, 2011 — The Free Bridge Quintet in the University of Virginia's McIntire Department of Music will welcome jazz pianist Hod O'Brien as a special guest artist Friday for a concert honoring the 94th birthday of jazz great John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie.
The concert, "Dizzy's Atmosphere," will begin at 8 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall. Tickets are $15 ($8 for students, and free for U.Va. students who reserve in advance) and can be purchased by visiting the Arts Box Office or by calling 434-924-3376.
O'Brien is an underground jazz legend who, though not well known, is hailed by critics, revered by his peers, influential upon younger players and sought-after by collectors and cognoscenti, event organizers said.
"Playing with Hod is an amazing experience," said Free Bridge bassist Peter Spaar, a performance faculty member in the music department. "He's a direct link to that incredible music scene that was going on in New York in the '50s, and when you play with him, you can feel it. The way he swings, his amazing melodic lines that unwind over whole choruses, it's like, 'Oh, so this is how you play bop!'"
Gillespie, widely regarded as one of bebop's founding fathers, was known for his amazing trumpet technique and his hipster style and wit. In honor of his Oct. 17, 1917, birthday, the Quintet will perform several of his lasting contributions to the jazz repertoire, including "Groovin' High," "Con Alma" and "Be Bop."
The Free Bridge Quintet is the music department's official faculty jazz quintet, and features Jeff Decker on saxophones, Robert Jospe on the drums, Spaar on bass and John D'earth on trumpet and flugelhorn. Pianist Wells Hanley is on leave this semester.