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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Naxos Jazz Legends 8.120708

Dizzy Gillespie - trumpet & vocal with various ensembles and personnel including Lucky Thompson, Don Byas, John Coltrane, Cecil Payne, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Percy Heath, Kenny Clarke and Chano Pozo.Recorded 1946 - 1952

1. 52nd Street Theme
2. Anthropology
3. Diggin' For Diz
4. Dynamo A ( Dizzy Atmosphere )
5. Two Bass Hit
6. Ow !
7. Cool Breeze
8. Cubana Be
9. Cubana Bop
10. Manteca
11. I Should Care
12. Birk's Works
13. Swing Low Sweet Cadillac
14. Caravan
15. Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be
16. Tin Tin Deo
17. Umbrella Man
18. Stardust
19. Pop's Confessin' ( I'm Confessin' )
20. Jump – Did-Le-Ba

This is a fascinating issue in a number of ways. The first thing that struck me was that there is nowhere any of the collaborations between the leader and Charlie Parker (admirable as they may be) . Instead we are treated to an excellent mixture of small group and big band selections featuring a plethora of famous and lesser-known soloists. The variety of numbers here ranges from bop to standards to novelty. Permeating the whole is the good-natured vocalising and crackling trumpet outings of Dizzy Gillespie.

The first two selections contain superb tenor playing from the almost forgotten Don Byas . The next two tracks have more of the same, this time from the equally ignored Lucky Thompson. All of the above are enhanced by the presence of Milt Jackson on the vibes. " Birk’s Works" and " Tin Tin Deo" are some of the earliest recordings made by John Coltrane and he plays both the alto and tenor saxophones.

Comedy numbers such as "Umbrella Man" and "Swing Low Sweet Cadillac" are still highly enjoyable after the passage of the years and it is interesting to hear the latter in an early version rather than in the more famous sixties remake which utilised Gillespie’s working group including James Moody.

Of the big band recordings there are some particularly fine early examples of the Afro-Cuban style featuring congalero Chano Pozo such as "Cubano Bop" and "Manteca". "I Should Care" has a beautiful vocal chorus from Johnny Hartman.

This is essential listening for anyone interested in the early days of modern jazz and is truly excellent value for money.

Dick Stafford

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