This double CD collects all of the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band sides from 1946-1949 for the Bluebird and Musicraft labels, including seven previously unissued cuts. These bands were renowned for their hard-swinging styles that accented the toughness of bebop wailing R&B and Latin/Cuban grooves. Some of Diz's sidemen included Milt Jackson, Cecil Payne, Ray Brown, Willie Bobo, Yusef Lateef, Johnny Hartman, Leo Parker, John Lewis, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Dorham, James Moody, Ernie Henry, Al McKibbon, and dozens of others. Here are formidable versions of "Two Bass Hit," "Cubana Bop," "Jump Did-Le-Ba," "Oop-Pop-A-Da," and many others. In addition to the studio sides there is an entire Paris concert included from a radio transcription, making these sides indispensable. The only downside is the lack of liner notes – though full session notation is included.
The 43 tracks that make up the first part of the The Complete Decca Studio Master Takes 1940-1949 of Louis Armstrong are remarkable not only for the outstanding performances they reflect, but for the many settings Armstrong recorded in during the era. While none of this material will come as a surprise to collectors, those who are starting to check out Armstrong's post-New Orleans period would do themselves a favor in scoping this collection because the Decca years, even more so than his long tenure with Verve, showcase Armstrong at the pinnacle of American popular music, and that that music happens to be jazz is even more revelatory.