Metuchen to host famous jazz scion

BY JAY BODAS Correspondent

METUCHEN – This Friday night, area residents are invited to come hear the smooth styling of Jeanie Bryson, daughter of jazz great Dizzy Gillespie.

“It is a world-class jazz event for $2,” singer Bryson said. “It is an opportunity to hear great music locally. I have a world-class band who have played with some of the leading musicians in the world.”

To celebrate her late father’s 90th birthday, Bryson will be singing many of her father’s famous songs, in addition to many that are lesser known.

“My father was one of the founders of modern jazz, along with Charlie Parker,” said Bryson. “He was an innovator and introduced Afro-Cuban music into jazz music. I am going through his musical legacy, and I also speak about how I came to choose the songs.”

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was a famous American jazz trumpeter and singer, earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He passed away in 1993 at the age of 75, but he remained active even in his final years, giving 300 performances in 27 countries in 1989.

His daughter Bryson has been a jazz singer for over 25 years, performing professionally since 1980.

“In 1991 I got a chance to go to Europe and sing, and I sang several concerts there,” she said. “In 1992 I got signed to a record label, and since then I have put out several records of jazz music.”

“For this tour, which we have been doing since September, we wanted to do something local,” Bryson said. “This upcoming event will be our seventh or eighth performance. I am a New Jersey resident, so this is my backyard, and we thought it would be nice for local people who cannot travel. It is a new project, and it is being well received.”

Bryson recommends the concert for music lovers as well as for parents of children who are aspiring musicians.

“I think anyone who enjoys music and a great band should come out, and especially jazz lovers, of course,” she said. “And I think for any child that is studying an instrument, this would be a great opportunity to see live music.”

The Dec. 7 tribute event, titled the “Dizzy Gillespie Songbook,” will be held at 8 p.m. at Metuchen High School. Tickets are $10, $5 for seniors and students, or $2 for those who bring an unwrapped toy. Tickets may be purchased by calling (732) 632-8502.