If you're exploring Dizzy Gillespie's '40s output for the first time, the best starting point would be RCA's comprehensive two-CD set The Complete RCA Victor Recordings 1937-1949, which boasts all of the trumpeter's essential recordings from that period. But this French CD of 1999, despite its flaws, also contains its share of Gillespie gems from the '40s. Early into the disc, one notices a major boo-boo: Tadd Dameron's "Our Delight" is listed as the first track when, in fact, it's the third. And some essential tunes are missing -- most notably, Gillespie's famous 1946 recordings of "A Night in Tunisia" and "Anthropology." But the sound quality is decent by 78-Era standards -- Jazz Archives' digital remastering is nothing to complain about, and the material that Jazz Archives provides is first rate. In fact, "Manteca," "Woody'N You," "Good Bait," "Cubana Be, Cubana Bop," and other big band gems are an essential part of any bop collection. Gillespie proved that big bands could be relevant to bop, and some of these recordings also demonstrated that Afro-Cuban elements and bop could be a powerful combination. In fact, everyone from Cal Tjader and Ray Barretto, to Poncho Sanchez, Pucho, and Mongo Santamaria benefited greatly from the Latin jazz breakthroughs of Gillespie and percussionist Chano Pozo. But while this collection paints an impressive picture of Gillespie's '40s work, it isn't the best place to get acquainted with it. Again, novices would be much better off starting out with The Complete RCA Victor Recordings 1937-1949.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson