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Jazz - Released January 1, 1980 | Pablo

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released September 29, 2017 | Verve Reissues

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Jazz - Released August 29, 2006 | Verve Reissues

Dizzy Gillespie's career soared with the surge of interest in bop, but after the failure of his independent Dee Gee label, his career was in the doldrums. In 1953, Norman Granz added the trumpeter to his successful Jazz at the Philharmonic all-star roster for tours and also signed him to a non-exclusive recording contract, where the producer was very open to most anything Gillespie wished to record. This seven-CD boxed set, a limited edition of 10,000 compiled by Mosaic, draws material from selected studio and live sessions made for Granz between 1954 and 1961, in addition to a number of studio dates made for Philips, all of which featured his working bands of the time. The Verve tracks are a treasure trove, as a good deal of these performances were not reissued on CD until this compilation, with six selections appearing for the first time in this collection. Aside from some of the early novelty songs like "Hey Pete! Let's Eat More Meat," the calypso-flavored "Money Honey," and the perennial jive number "Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac," which wear out their welcome quickly, the remaining material is very strong. Up and coming musicians in his bands include saxophonists Hank Mobley, Gigi Gryce, and Benny Golson, along with pianists Ray Bryant and Junior Mance. One of the obvious highlights is alto sax great Johnny Hodges' guest appearance on "Squatty Roo," which bolsters Gillespie's playing to its highest level. The addition of the relatively unheralded Leo Wright (who doubles on flute and alto sax) and young pianist Lalo Schifrin for a brief concert at the Museum of Modern Art marks the end of his association with Verve, which was sold by Granz that very same year. Several of the earliest Philips sessions find Gillespie incorporating Brazilian influences and exploring the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, and even one extended work by Schifrin, "Mount Olive." Dizzy Gillespie & the Double Six of Paris features collaborations with a group of French vocalists arranged by Lalo Schifrin, with most of the songs utilizing Bud Powell, Pierre Michelot, and Kenny Clarke, with the trumpeter's regular group of the time on two selections. The Double Six of Paris' leader Michel Perin's vocalese interpretations of Charlie Parker's instrumental solos from Gillespie's well-known records of "Hot House" and "Groovin' High" are outstanding, as are the big-band arrangements recast for small group and voices. The final sessions feature James Moody and Kenny Barron, with Chris White and Rudy Collins. The tracks from Dizzy Goes Hollywood are enjoyable but far too brief, as most of them hover around the three-minute mark. Better are the songs from Original Score from the Cool World, an updated look at music Dizzy composed for the film, with fine arrangements by Tom McIntosh. This collection should be considered essential for any Dizzy Gillespie fan. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Jazz - Released February 20, 2020 | RevOla

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Verve Reissues

Finally available again after a 30-plus year absence from American shelves is the soundtrack to Shirley Clarke's gritty but brilliant 1964 film, Cool World, about young people growing up in Harlem. The score was written and arranged by pianist Mal Waldron but was performed and recorded by Dizzy Gillespie's quintet of the time. This set is one of Diz's best records of the 1960s (which is saying something), and one of the best jazz film scores period. Diz's band at the time included James Moody on tenor and flute, a young Kenny Barron on piano, bassist Chris White, and Rudy Collins on drums. The 11 cues that range between two and five minutes are deeply rooted in the language of hard bop and blues with some excellent, if brief, modal touches by Waldron. The opening theme, the set's longest cut, sets out all the tropes the quintet will visit over and again; lean, tough, expressive blues. Barron's piano sets out a fast, hard swinging groove that sets a pace for the cut time, skittering snare, and frenetic bassline; they urge the two horn players to wail the head and they do. The three solos are as intense and popping as anything on Blue Note at the time, and offer a portal into the rest of the set. The blues articulation of every cue here is on purpose because, if anything, Cool World is a film drenched in them. Waldron's sense of economy in picking both impressionistic and expressionist avenues for blues to speak through jazz in an inspired quintet like this is remarkable -- the temptation would be to excess at every turn, especially given Waldron's gift for sophisticated harmonies and spacy lyrical concerns. There is little that is subtle about this music, but there is nothing overblown about it either. Check the happy-go-lucky flow of "Enter Priest," which signals the arrival onscreen of Duke's (main character) mentor: though he is an underworld figure and a gang leader, his outward appearance to Duke, and his first impression of him, is one of freedom and admiration. The free-flowing cut-time rim shot from Collins and the breezy, open horn section underscores this; Duke's eyes are wide and happy because he thinks he's found a way out of his predicament. On "Duke's Awakening," Waldron deviates -- momentarily -- from the blues/hard bop lexicon. He uses a minor-key modal theme in the intro before unfolding a slow blues. Waldron follows this with a stunning hard bebop cue called "Duke on the Run," that echoes back to the '40s in its unrelenting action and pace -- though Moody's solo is a deeply soulful one. There is also the wonderfully lilting "Coney Island," (where the main character escorts his Bonnie, his love interest, to the seashore, it's her first time seeing the ocean despite having grown up in Harlem). The open octave spill between saxophone and muted trumpeter are the character's voice, and the drums and bassline become the sea and sand -- the only place the pair is free is on the shore. Moody solos on flute to outline just how different this moment is than either character has known before. Ultimately, the soundtrack to Cool World is an enormous success artistically, standing head and shoulders over virtually every other such effort of the period, and a welcome addition to the Gillespie catalog, offering a very keen and muscular view of his 1964 band. Previously available only as a very expensive import, this disc is a must for anyone interested in '60s Gillespie and in hard bop jazz in general. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1952 | Verve Reissues

This collection of 78 rpm singles, all recorded on June 6, 1950, was released in 1956. Several things distinguish this from numerous other quintet recordings featuring these two bebop pioneers. It was recorded during the period that Parker was working under the aegis of producer Norman Granz, whose preference for large and unusual ensembles was notorious. The end result in this case is a date that sounds very much like those that Parker and Gillespie recorded for Savoy and Dial, except with top-of-the-line production quality. Even more interesting, though, is Parker's choice of Thelonious Monk as pianist. Unfortunately, Monk is buried in the mix and gets very little solo space, so his highly idiosyncratic genius doesn't get much exposure here. Still, this is an outstanding album -- there are fine versions of Parker standards like "Leap Frog," "Mohawk," and "Relaxin' with Lee," as well as a burning performance of "Bloomdido" and twjo interesting (if not entirely thrilling) renditions of the chestnut "My Melancholy Baby." © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 31, 2014 | BnF Collection

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1977 | Fantasy Records

Although Lalo Schifrin is justifiably praised for his soundtrack work, many jazz purists turn up their noses at his jazz dates, such as his '60s work with Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery. The things that make Schifrin an anathema to the diehards -- the huge orchestras, the pop and soul riffs, the general air of over the top theatricality -- are all over 1977's Free Ride, his reunion date with Dizzy Gillespie. (Schifrin had been Gillespie's arranger in the late '50s.) In fact, Free Ride is so painfully dated that it's transformed into cockeyed cool, just the sort of record ironic hipsters should listen to while they're reading the novelizations of '70s cop shows that they bought for a bundle off of eBay. Gillespie plays with his usual wit and panache, but most of the time, he sounds like a sideman on his own album; the real focus of Schifrin's arrangements is the funky wah-wah guitars and ARP synthesizer solos that take center stage on tracks like "Fire Dance" (which sounds exactly like it should be the theme for a Charlie's Angels spinoff) and the mellow disco of the closing "Last Stroke of Midnight." Occasionally, Gillespie gets to break out on his own album, with the lovely solo on "Love Poem for Donna" his particular standout. For what it is, Free Ride is really quite good (guests include Lee Ritenour and future star Ray Parker, Jr.), but it's very much a record of and for its time. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 22, 1995 | Verve Reissues

Dizzy Gillespie's globetrotting big band of 1956-1957 was one of his finest groups, a very exciting orchestra that at various times had such players as trumpeters Gillespie, Joe Gordon, and Lee Morgan, trombonists Melba Liston and Al Grey, altoists Phil Woods and Ernie Henry, the tenors of Billy Mitchell, Ernie Wilkins, and Benny Golson, and pianists Walter Davis, Jr. and Wynton Kelly. With arrangements contributed by Quincy Jones (who was in the trumpet section), Wilkins, Liston, and Golson, this was a classic orchestra. Its three studio albums plus a few numbers previously issued only on samplers and nine previously unreleased performances (mostly alternate takes) are on this wonderful two-CD set. The high points are many, including "Dizzy's Business," "Jessica's Day," "The Champ," "Cool Breeze," "Birks Works," "Whisper Not," "Stablemates," and "I Remember Clifford." Essential music. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 8, 1955 | Verve Reissues

Gillespie was at the peak of his powers throughout the 1950s and still the pacesetter among trumpeters. This double LP matches him with Stan Getz, the Oscar Peterson Trio, and drummer Max Roach for its first half. Getz, although identified with the "cool" school, thrived on competition and is both relaxed and combative on the uptempo explorations of "It Don't Mean a Thing" and "Impromptu." The remainder of this two-fer substitutes pianist John Lewis and drummer Stan Levey for Peterson and Roach and, most importantly, adds altoist Sonny Stitt to the frontline. The results are three uptempo stomps and just one medium-tempo performance. This is one of their better (and more explosive) studio jam sessions. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1996 | Impulse!

A strangely popular album for Dizzy Gillespie, Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac represents a period in his career where he was adapting to the times, keeping his goof factor on board, and individually playing as well as he ever had. This club date, recorded over two days circa May of 1967 from The Memory Lane in Los Angeles, has Gillespie with soon to be longtime partners James Moody and Mike Longo, joking and jiving with their audience, presenting a relatively short program of modified pop tunes and one of the trumpeter's most revered compositions. Drummer Otis "Candy" Finch is more than up to the task, but electric bass guitarist Frank Schifano is the weak link, playing basic lines, or unfortunately out of tune. Longo moves from acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, while Moody's tenor or alto sax and flute are as distinctive as ever. Gillespie's voice, inspired by Eddie Jefferson or perhaps Billy Eckstine, was never meant for singing, but is delightful in his attempt. "Kush" is the track that, over nearly 16 minutes, starts with Dizzy's preachings about Mother Africa and Moody's wavering flute, but Schifano's insistently off-key ostinato mars what is otherwise Gillespie's bright and fluid trumpet sparring with Moody's alto in louder, then softened dynamics and Longo's dainty piano chords. The band modifies Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada," made popular by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, into a boppish swinging and swaying tune with Latin inferences. The title track, Gillespie's singularly unique and famous adaptation of the gospel song "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" has he and Moody chatting back and forth in campy ghetto and Afro-Cuban vocal antics gleaned from Chano Pozo, degenerating into nothing, then a modest vocal line. While somewhat disingenuous, Gillespie's vocal attempt at being a romantic troubadour during "Something in Your Smile" cannot be taken seriously, but is somehow quaint and endearing. This is not an essential listing in the vast discography of such a great jazz artist, but remains a curiosity in his collection, especially considering the two-day time frame where much more music could have been considered to be issued. It is not to be completely ignored, but less worthy than many of his other seminal groundbreaking recordings. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 11, 2016 | Justin Time Records

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Jazz - Released October 20, 2017 | RCA - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Verve

Often in the early days of the modern jazz movement, players would come up with the most dazzling tempos, complex chord changes, intricate melodies, and tricky rhythmic breaks imaginable, as much to challenge themselves as to keep the squares from trying to get on the bandstand and jam. For Musicians Only is just that, and then some. Gillespie, the great virtuoso trumpeter, is joined on the front line by Stan Getz and Sonny Stitt for a blowing session of phenomenal proportions. Gillespie's demanding tune "Bebop," and Denzil Best's "Wee (Allen's Alley)" (based on "I Got Rhythm") are given brisk, wailing treatments. Both tunes highlight Stitt's scampering alto, Getz's dancing, mentholated tenor (very much in his Lester Young mode), and Gillespie's coiled, tempestuous trumpet. The tough, swinging rhythm section really distinguishes itself on the standards "Dark Eyes" and "Lover Come Back to Me" (particularly bassist Ray Brown). They always manage to keep a hint of the basic tune in the foreground, no matter how free the soloists get. Gillespie is inspired throughout, and For Musicians Only contains some of his spunkiest, most pugnacious solos. © TiVo
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Bebop - Released January 23, 1995 | RCA Bluebird

Although the sheer scope of this double-CD roundup of all of Dizzy's Victor sessions places it most obviously within the evolution of bebop, it is absolutely essential to Latin jazz collections as well. Here listeners find the discographical launching pad of Afro-Cuban jazz on December 22, 1947, when Cuban conguero Chano Pozo added his galvanic congas and bongos to Gillespie's big band for the first time on record. One can feel the explosive effect of Pozo's subdivisions of the beat, rhythmic incantations, and grooves on the band's bebop charts. Though the musicians' styles aren't much affected, and Pozo does most of the adapting to bebop rather than vice versa, the foundation has clearly shifted. Alas, aside from recorded live gigs, Pozo only made eight tracks with the band -- four on December 22 and four more eight days later, just before the second Musicians Union recording ban kicked in. Yet even after Pozo's murder the following year, Gillespie continued to expand his Latin experiments, using two Latin percussionists who brought more rhythmic variety to the sound of tunes like "Guarachi Guaro" (later popularized by Cal Tjader as "Soul Sauce") and even commercial ballads like "That Old Black Magic." The reprocessing of these recordings from late in the 78 rpm era through the CEDAR process sounds a bit harsh, though less so than most of RCA's earlier desecrations of vault material using NoNOISE. Even so, this remains the best way to acquire these seminal Latin jazz tracks. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 1, 1963 | Verve Reissues

It is such a pity that Dizzy Gillespie Philips' LPs have yet to be reissued on CD, for the trumpeter (45 at the time of this recording) was at the peak of his powers in the early '60s. On such songs as "In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town," "Careless Love," "One Note Samba" and the "Theme from Black Orpheus," Gillespie and his expanded quintet (with guests Bola Sete or Elec Bacsik on guitar and Charlie Ventura taking a memorable bass sax solo on "No More Blues-Part II") show a great deal of spirit and creativity. Leo Wright (on alto and flute) and pianist Lalo Schifrin are also in fine form throughout this gem. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1981 | Fantasy Records

A 1980 date with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie playing in an unusual trio setting with guitarist Toots Thielemans and drummer Bernard Purdie. Purdie, a consummate funk and R&B percussionist, makes the switch to mainstream material adequately, while Gillespie and Thielemans establish a quick, consistent rapport. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 22, 1956 | Savoy

An early LP on Savoy that gathers Dizzy Gillespie's small-group recordings from 1951-52, The Champ has a lot to recommend it -- songs, sidemen, and performances. With just one exception, each of the selections are drawn from quintet or sextet dates, boasting work by Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, J.J. Johnson, Percy Heath, and Stuff Smith in addition to an early appearance from John Coltrane (he made his debut with Diz, though not here). On the title track, a six-minute jam released as a two-part single, Gillespie plays furiously and tenor Budd Johnson contributes a great squawking solo. "Birk's Works," one of Dizzy's finest compositions, gets its first commercial recording, while Stuff Smith's violin solo gives "Caravan" exactly the exotic touch it needs to lift it above competing versions. Diz and Joe Carroll trade vocals on "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and bop culture meets gospel for "Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac." © John Bush /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 26, 1954 | Verve Reissues

Pairing Dizzy Gillespie with Cuban arranger/composer Chico O'Farrill produced a stunning session which originally made up the first half of a Norgran LP. O'Farrill conducts an expanded orchestra which combines a jazz band with a Latin rhythm section; among the participants in the four-part "Manteca Suite" are trumpeters Quincy Jones and Ernie Royal, trombonist J.J. Johnson, tenor saxophonists Hank Mobley and Lucky Thompson, and conga player Mongo Santamaria. "Manteca," written during the previous decade, serves as an exciting opening movement, while the next two segments build upon this famous theme, though they are jointly credited to O'Farrill as well. "Rhumba-Finale" is straight-ahead jazz with some delicious solo work by Gillespie. A later small-group session features the trumpeter with an all-Latin rhythm section and flutist Gilberto Valdes, who is heard on "A Night in Tunisia" and "Caravan." Both of the Latin versions of these pieces are far more interesting than "Con Alma," as the excessive percussion and dull piano accompaniment add little to this normally captivating theme. Long out of print, this 2002 CD reissue will only be available until May 2005; it is well worth acquiring. © Ken Dryden /TiVo