Recorded from May, 1954 to April, 1964, these 132 small-group sides just might not have happenedexcept that like so many others, Dizzy Gillespie's big band had fallen on hard times by the early '50s. This seven-disc compilation is filled with signature classics such as "Salt Peanuts and "A Night In Tunisia, documenting the evolving artistry of John Birks Gillespie, a true jazz giant. As Donald L. Maggin observes in his detailed liner notes, "As a creator of the bebop and Afro-Cuban revolutions during the 1940s, he twice fundamentally changed the way jazz improvisation was done. It was as if Monet had been in the vanguard of both Impressionism and Cubism.
From the early '50s until 1961, Gillespie had an especially fertile partnership with producer Norman Granz. The earliest tracks, which include Hank Mobley (tenor), Charli Persip (drums), Wade Legge (piano), Lou Hackney (bass) and Jimmy Cleveland (trombone), include easy swingers like "Sugar Hips and a dip into the calypso craze on "Money Honey, with playful vocalizing from Gillespie. Throughout his career his playfulness caused some to mistake showmanship for shallowness. One need only hear his searing solo on "Blue Mood to know otherwise.
On a 1957 date for The Greatest Trumpet of Them All, Gillespie was joined by Benny Golson (tenor). Both as a composer and as a musician, Golson was an aptly sophisticated partner for Gillespie. His "Out of the Past and "Just By Myself are filled with complex harmonies which allow Gillespie to shine on both open and muted horn. On "Blues After Dark the subtlety of Golson's blues evokes a smoking solo from Gillespie. The range of which Gillespie was capable is evident in sounds shifting effortlessly from muted to changing rhythms to burnished purity.
From a 1959 set which produced two albums, (Have Trumpet, Will Excite and The Ebullient Mr. Gillespie), there's a previously unreleased gem, "Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be. The real knockout is "Squatty Roo, where Gillespie is joined by the composer, Johnny Hodges. Throughout the choice of musicians is first-class on everything from the down-and-dirty 1960 recording of "Things Ain't What They Used To Be to Lalo Schifrin's now-classic "Gillespiana, with the composer at the piano. Mention must also be made of a 1961 session which produced "Desafinado, "Manha De Carnaval and "No More Blues, Gillespie becoming the first major jazz artist to incorporate bossa nova into his repertoire.
More highlights: that oldie "Million Dollar Baby, on which Gillespie purrs deliciously like a satisfied cat licking its whiskers; and a memorable 1963 set from Paris with Bud Powell (piano), Pierre Michelot (bass), Kenny Clarke (drums) and Les Double Six de Paris vocalese-ing. Clarke is a particular standout on "Anthropology. The final sides find Gillespie playing parts of Mal Waldron's score, which he performed in the prize-winning film The Cool World, sounding dramatic and different from anything heard earlier. The music is abundant, varied, infectiously listenable, blazing and still astonishing.
CD1: Sugar Hips; One Alone; Hey Pete! Let's East More Meat; Money Honey; Blue Mood;
Rails; Devil and The Flesh; Rumbola; Blues After Dark
Sea Breeze; Out Of The Past; Shabozz; Remniscing; A Night At Tony's; Smoke Signals; Just
CD2: My Heart Belongs To Daddy; My Man (Mon Homme); Moonglow; St. Louis Blues;
Woody 'N' You; Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams; There Is No Greater Love
I Found A Million Dollar Baby; Always; Swing Low Sweet Cadillac; Willow Weep For Me;
Ungawa; Girl of My Dreams.
CD3: Lorraine; Constantinople; The Umbrella Man; Squatty Roo; Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be; I
Found A Million Dollar Baby; There Is No Greater Love (alt #1)
There Is No Greater Love (alt #2); There Is No Greater Love (alt #3); Theme From Formula
409 (Pt. 1); Theme From Formula 409 (Pt. 2); Kush (Pt. 1)
Kush (Pt. 2); Goin' Fishin'; Medley: a. This Is The Way, b. Untitled Dizzy Original, c. Cubano
Be, d. I Waited For You; Things Ain't What They Used To Be.
CD4: Kush; Salt Peanuts; A Night In Tunisia; The Mooche; Pau De Arara; Desafinado; Chega
De Saudade (No More Blues Pt.1); Chega De Saudade (No More Blues Pt. 2)
Taboo; Long, Long Summer; This Is The Way; Cubano Be; One Alone; I Think That Maybe I
Should Go Away; I Waited For You; Manha De Carnaval.
CD5: Pergunte Ao Joao; Me-da-um Dinheiro Ahi (Give Me Some Money There); I Shall
Never Forget; Mount Olive; Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be; Lady Be Good
In A Shanty In Old Shanty Town; Careless Love; Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You?; Chega De
Saudade (No More Blues live version); One Note Samba
Here It Is; Ole (aka For The Gypsies); Early Mornin' Blues.
CD6: Be-Bop; Good Bait; Medley a) I Can't Get Started, b) 'Round Midnight; Dizzy
Atmosphere; November Afternoon; This Lovely Feeling; The Day After;
The Cup Bearers; Ow!; The Champ; Emanon; Anthropology; Tin Tin deo; One Bass Hit; Two
Bass Hit; Groovin' High; Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be; Hot House; Con Alma;
Blue 'N Boogie.
CD7: Theme From Exodus; Moon River; Caesar And Cleopatra Theme; Days Of Wine And
Roses; Walk On The Wild Side; More; Love Theme From Lolita;
Theme From Picnic; Never On Sunday; Theme From Lawrence Of Arabia; Carioca; Theme
From The Cool World; The Pushers; Enter, Priest; Duke's Awakening;
Duke On The Run; Street Music; Bonnie's Blues; Coney Island; Duke's Fantasy; Coolie;
Duke's Last Soliloquy.