Now this Naxos historical jazz collection fulfills a crying need, succinctly summing up a critical slice of time where bebop is concerned. It covers the classic bop years from birth to fruition as heard through one of its inventors, raiding the archives of tiny defunct labels like Manor and Guild that sowed the seeds, as well as mega-giant RCA Victor, which continues to reap the harvest. Gillespie can first be heard in a hot solo with the Lucky Millinder big band on "Little John Special" (1942) that perfectly bridges the transition between swing and bop. Next is an early try at "A Night in Tunisia" (also known as "Interlude") with the Boyd Raeburn big band. Four sides for Manor under the name Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, with a rather eclectic front line (Gillespie, trombonist Trummy Young, Don Byas on tenor sax) culminate with the zany, defining "Salt Peanuts." After "Cherokee," fronted by clarinetist Joe Marsala with a swing rhythm section, comes three classic Guild sides -- "Groovin' High," "Blue 'N Boogie," and "Shaw 'Nuff" -- with bebop co-conspirator Charlie Parker blowing on the first and third and Dexter Gordon on the second. The Gillespie big band comes into view with "Emanon" for Musicraft, followed by a quartet of RCA Victor sides featuring Gillespie's introduction of Afro-Cuban rhythms in "Lover, Come Back to Me" and "Guarachi Guaro" and part of a failed attempt to commercialize bebop in "In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee." Unlike most Naxos Jazz Legends packages, this one is organized roughly in chronological order, digressing only at the end with a backwards look at a couple of 1946 sessions for Dial ("'Round Midnight") and Musicraft ("Things to Come"). With original pressings as sources, Naxos' sound is serviceable and undistorted if somewhat veiled; RCA Victor's own transfers on The Complete RCA Victor Recordings have more immediacy, but also unwanted distortion (both labels use CEDAR processing with entirely different results).
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell
feat: Lucky Millinder
feat: Boyd Raeburn
feat: Joe Marsala
feat: The Tempo Jazzmen