The documentary A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie brings the story of American trumpeter’s and composer’s visit to Cuba in 1985 where he performed as a special guest of the international jazz festival in Havana.
Due to inconvenient political climate, it was then when the undisputed creator of bebop and one the first musicians in the 40‘s who merged Afro-Cuban poly rhythms with a big band, visited the country whose music has inspired him for decades.
Director John Holland showed with A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie the social aspects of Gillespie’s Cuba visit as well as concert footage from the festival he performed at.
The movie shows the compositions Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You, Night in Tunisia, Manteca and parts of his standards Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac, Con Alma and Blues played with clarinetist and baritone saxophonist Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabyyr, pianist Walter Davis, Jr., bassist John G. Lee, drummer Nasyr Abdul Al-Khabyyr and Big Black on congas.
Beside concert footage the movies gives insight into Gillespie’s thoughts about bebop, his passion for blues and the influence of African drums on jazz explaining the common social surrounding that he and his audience share. It also shows Gillespie’s meetings with Havana’s residents and Fidel Castro.