Under its Compact Jazz series, Verve Records has cobbled together ten tracks from albums made for them, or for the Phillips label, from 1954 to 1964. They find Dizzy Gillespie in a variety of settings, with his quintet, his Latin American Rhythm, his orchestra, and in venues both in the United States and overseas. Most of the tunes selected for this collection reflect Gillespie's love affair with Afro-Cuban and other Latin American music, including such cuts as "Night in Tunisia," "One Note Samba," and "Pau de Arara." His groups included some of the top-flight artists then extant and some who were less familiar. His big bands generally had all-star players, including Lee Morgan, Al Grey, and Wynton Kelly. Sonny Stitt joins Gillespie for a small-group 1957 recording of "Con Alma." And, of course, given the nature of the music, some of Gillespie's Latin friends are on hand, including Candido Cameo and Ubaldo Nieto. Throughout it all, Gillespie is in fine fettle with that immediately recognizable, inimitable trumpet style of his, the trumpet that took on its famous bent-bell look during the period covered by these sets. Even though the sound effects get a bit much from time to time, this is a good retrospective of non-bop Gillespie when he was still working with rhythms from south of the border.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan