A year later Gillespie would reform the big band and keep it together into early 1950. But in late 1945, it was back to the small- group format. Bird and Dizzy were reunited and left for California in December to play an engagement at Billy Berg's in Hollywood. Al Haig was the pianist, with Milt Jackson on vibes; Ray Brown, bass; and Stan Levey, drums. When Parker's attendance at the club became erratic, Gillespie was forced to hire Lucky Thompson to insure two horns in the front line.
The reception that Gillespie and Parker received from the public in California wasn't much better than Dizzy's big band got in the South. The difference here was the musicians, who had heard the New York recordings, came to hear their new idols in the flesh. These were the young musicians, but the older, established musicians such as Art Tatum and Benny Carter, came too, as did the Hollywood celebrity crowd. The music, however, was misunderstood in the main. The people were used to the vocals of Slim Gaillard and Harry "The Hipster" Gibson. Although Parker and Gillespie recorded with Gaillard (the famous Slim's Jam on Savoy) and were presented on Rudy Vallee's national radio show by Gibson, their audience and the people who came to hear Gaillard and Gibson were not reconciled. Opening night was big, but as the week went on the crowds diminished, and the hip minority did not order drinks often enough to make the cash register ring with any consistency.
RED CALLENDAR They didn't really understand it. It was a little above them. They were used to hearing pop melodies turned into jazz. But these guys took popular songs and wrote another line above the harmony. That's what "Groovin' High" was, "Whispering." Ray Brown had three strings on his bass. I took him an A-string.