While by no means the definitive representation of the development of one of the greatest musical art forms of the 20th century, The Birth of Bebop: 1937-1945 is still a nice single-disc overview of the jazz style's crucial early years. Part of the Jazz Legends Legendary Grooves series, the collection is centered around the early work of saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Featuring tracks the two recorded together and as members of various big bands, including Jay McShann's Orchestra, Lionel Hampton's Orchestra, and others, the collection demonstrates how swing became more sophisticated as new harmonic innovations led to an increasingly more cerebral but no less hip approach to playing jazz. Most of the tracks run chronologically up to the Gillespie/Parker cuts of 1945 -- oddly, Mildred Bailey's 1940 side "I'm Nobody's Baby" starts things off -- and should appeal to longtime fans and newcomers alike.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar