DIZZY: THE MUSIC OF JOHN BIRKS GILLESPIE is the musical companion to Donald L. Maggin's biography of the bebop pioneer. Interestingly, the CD does not cover what is widely regarded as Gillespie's most enduring and revolutionary work--his earliest recordings with Charlie Parker. Instead, it focuses on his output from 1950 through 1963, when the trumpeter began to experiment with big bands, as well as a variety of small groups. Since Gillespie's work with Parker has been well documented and much heralded, it is a relief to hear a set that spotlights his bold, often magnificent work as a leader.
Over its 11 tracks, DIZZY spans the range of Gillespie's projects during the era. His explosive 1956-57 big band (which Gillespie considered the greatest big band he ever led) is represented here, as are some of his all-star configurations, which feature Parker, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, and Max Roach. The set presents ballads, potent bebop, and--of particular note--an increasing devotion to Afro-Cuban sounds, a style Gillespie helped develop and introduce to American jazz audiences. DIZZY is a superb overview of a too-often overlooked period in this jazz icon's career.