Dizzy Gillespie

Career: 1937-1992

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Any two-disc collection -- no matter how well-intentioned, as this one most certainly is -- that aims to cover a career 53 years long is going to be full of holes. That said, Shout Factory's handsomely packaged label-crossing Career: 1937-1992 tries hard. Beginning with Gillespie's tenure in the NBC Orchestra led by Teddy Hill, Diz can be heard alongside Dicky Wells, Russell Procope, and Howard Johnson tearing it up on "King Porter Stomp." Also from the early years are tracks that mark Diz's tenure with Cab Calloway and Billy Eckstine -- "Pickin' the Cabbage" and "Opus X," respectively. On disc one, the years 1945-1949 are particularly well represented -- there are a few cuts from just before Charlie Parker and Gillespie teamed up, and their time together is well considered here. There is also a version of "Birk's Works," from 1951 in Detroit, that stars a young John Coltrane alongside Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson, and Percy Heath on Diz's own Dee Gee label. Disc two begins with a track from Jazz at Massey Hall and moves through the Diz and Getz set into the Modern Jazz Sextet with John Lewis, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Persip, Skeeter Best, and Percy Heath. Gillespie's big bands of the late '50s are documented here, from Dizzy Gillespie at Newport and The Big Band Sound of Dizzy Gillespie, as are his fine quintets from the early '60s that starred Lalo Schifrin on piano. In addition, the Machito reunion from 1975 -- conducted by Chico O'Farrill -- and dates with Arturo Sandoval are here, as well as a track from Gillespie's final offering, To Bird With Love. Sure, there is plenty to argue with here, about what is not included as well as what is. But with the fine digipack box, great notes by Neil Tesser, and a price that's mighty attractive, this is a fine little intro to Diz's legend.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
feat: Teddy Hill
2 2:46
3 2:39
4 3:05
5 3:00
6 2:59
7 2:44
8 2:50
9 2:49
10 3:02
11 2:46
12 2:48
13 5:59
14 3:08
15 2:29
16 3:02
17 3:05
18 3:25
19 3:06
feat: Roy Eldridge
21 7:33
blue highlight denotes track pick