Gillespie popularised bebop with the classic Musicraft small group recordings of the mid-40s. Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson and Sonny Stitt are just some of the big names joining Diz on these groundbreaking tracks. The collection shown here is the best on offer, but there are others that contain most of the essentials.
The Savoy & Dial Studio Sessions
Seminal bebop recordings from its greatest icon. The 'Best of...' collection shown here contains 20 tracks recorded for the Savoy & Dial labels that represent some of the altoist's finest work made before heroin addiction finally caught up with him, but it is getting hard to find. Just make sure to do your homework before you buy anything.
Genius of Modern Music (Volume 1)
1947 [Blue Note]
Monk's 1947 Blue Note recordings are the perfect introduction to the pianist's earliest and best bebopping. The star backing here includes appearances by Art Blakey, Lou Donaldson, Kenny Dorham, Milt Jackson and Lucky Thompson. Five of the 21 tracks featured on this collection are alternate takes, but the rest is pure beboppin' gold.
Blue Note & Capitol Recordings
Fats Navarro & Tadd Dameron
1946-49 [Blue Note/Capitol]
More than a third of the great bop trumpeter's 2CD Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings (with Tadd Dameron) is made up of poorly placed alternate takes. Like Charlie Parker, Navarro suffered from a fatal heroin addiction. The 'Fats Blows' collection shown here features the best of the complete set and has acceptable sound quality.
Bird and Diz
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie
Bird and Diz renew past acquaintances and pianist Thelonious Monk helps out on the only recordings he would ultimately make with Parker. The odd man out is swing drummer Buddy Rich, but the boppers battle through. The original 1950 release clocked in under a half hour, but the CD is supplemented with several alternate takes.
The Amazing Bud Powell (Vol 1)
1951 [Blue Note]
CDs covering bop pianist Powell's classic Blue Note years are typically short on playing time and often long on excessive alternative takes. If you can find it, The Definitive Bud Powell contains the pianist's best for both the Blue Note and Verve labels. The support includes trumpeter Fats Navarro, drummer Max Roach and Sonny Rollins on tenor sax.
Jazz at Massey Hall
The Quintet (featuring Charlie Parker)
Live date featuring altoist Charlie Parker fronting an all-star bop line-up that included Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, drummer Max Roach, and Charles Mingus. Parker was Bop's greatest icon. Despite his battles with the heroin addiction that was to prove his undoing, this stands out as one of the most exciting live recordings in jazz history.
The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson (Vol. 1)
Jay Jay Johnson
1953 [Blue Note]
It was pretty tough for most trombonists to keep up with the sheer pace of bebop. Johnson was an exception, utilising every trick in the book to get the right sound - including softening his acoustics with an old beret. The addition of hotshot trumpeter Clifford Brown is a real bonus, although a typically short Blue Note playing time irks a bit.
Top 100 (Pre-1980)
Next 100 (Pre-1980)
Top 100 (Post-1980)
The Swing Era
Post-War Big Bands
West Coast Cool
More Hard Bop
The Explosive 60s
The Creative 70s
Twists & Turns
The ECM Sound
Keys to Jazz
Keep on Singin'