From the very beginning, Dizzy was one of the most interesting things about the bands with which he played, a standout with Calloway and Eckstine and other big bands in the 1930s. In Eckstine's group was saxophonist Charlie Parker, with whom Gillespie had previously played when the two were sidemen for Earl Hines. Meeting for the second time, Parker and Gillespie began hanging out together in clubs like Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's Uptown House, where jam sessions gave birth to bebop.
After his own big band of the late 1940s, Gillespie started a new association with Norman Granz at Verve and then Philips that continued after Granz left. Under Granz, he could record almost anything he chose, from super-sessions to big bands to jam sessions to Afro-Cuban explorations to small groups.
As the Verve relationship continued, Gillespie continued to tinker and experiment, commissioning challenging charts from youngsters Benny Golson and Gigi Gryce. And he continued to solo with coy, playful abandon, at times swarthy and grounded, at other times intense and ruminative.
The small group sessions are the focus of this set and they contain a bounty of his fine soloing, outstanding arrangements, and deft support players. While he was already considered a veteran thanks to the importance of his innovations, The New Yorker's jazz critic assessed him again and declared that he was "playing with far more subtlety and invention than any time in his past."