Dizzy Gillespie’s last drummer to join John Zappa Quintet at the Fitton

The Fitton Center will kick off the season’s Jazz & Cabaret series on Saturday, Nov. 4 with Dizzy Gillespie Night featuring The John Zappa Quintet with special guest Ignacio Berroa (pictured), Dizzy Gillespie’s last drummer. CONTRIBUTED
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The Fitton Center will kick off the season’s Jazz & Cabaret series on Saturday, Nov. 4 with Dizzy Gillespie Night featuring The John Zappa Quintet with special guest Ignacio Berroa (pictured), Dizzy Gillespie’s last drummer. CONTRIBUTED

HAMILTON – The Fitton Center will kick off the season’s Jazz & Cabaret series and join in the celebration of the 100th birthday of famous trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on Saturday, Nov. 4l. Dizzy Gillespie Night will feature The John Zappa Quintet with special guest Ignacio Berroa, Gillespie’s last drummer.

Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director of the Fitton Center, said the sound and spirit of Dizzy’s music will fill the ballroom. The evening will be led by local trumpet and percussion virtuoso Zappa, his quintet and special guest Berroa, who was Gillespie’s last drummer for a decade until his death.

“Dizzy Gillespie was one of the icons of jazz in this country, and of the bebop in the 1940s and 1950s. He was known all over the world. We are excited to bring his music to the Fitton Center,” said MacKenzie-Thurley.

“So, this connection, this lineage is going to be playing in the Fitton Center Ballroom. It’s exclusive to Ohio. He’s not playing any other gigs here. He is coming to the Fitton Center. He’s coming to Hamilton, Ohio to play with John Zappa. They’ve played together before, and he really respects John and his band. So, he’s coming here for the opportunity to play, and we are absolutely delighted,” MacKenzie-Thurley said.

For this performance, the Fitton Center is offering $15 dollar, half-price tickets to students, he said.

Zappa will be joined on stage by Berroa, along with Mike Darrah (piano,) Aaron Jacobs (bass) and Brent Gallaher (tenor saxophone) to perform modern renditions of Dizzy’s songs, using a lot of Berroa’s Afro-Cuban musical influences to bring a Latin-rhythmic element into the arrangements and treatment of the songs.

“Dizzy began in the 1940s. He was a musical pioneer, who was essential in an evolutionary stage of jazz, where it graduated from co-existing as popular dance music into being an art music with a deeper meaning. The basis of that music that he was one of the founders of is still something that we build on in today’s jazz music,” Zappa said. “Doing that in the 100th anniversary of his birthday with one of the people that was actually one of his friends, bandmates and someone he personally mentored is a really special opportunity,” Zappa said.

WANT TO GO?

What: The John Zappa Quintet with special guest Ignacio Berroa, Dizzy Gillespie's last drummer

When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Carruthers Signature Ballroom, The Fitton Center for Creative Arts, 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton.

Cost: Fitton Center member $25; non-member $30.

More info: www.fittoncenter.org or call (513) 863-8873 ext. 110. Also visit www.facebook.com/FittonCenter.