This single CD reissues all of the music from two rare Dizzy Gillespie LPs. Dating from 1963-64, the set features the trumpeter's interpretation of the score of the obscure film The Cool World (although these are not the actual performances heard in the movie) plus 11 themes from other films. Gillespie, who is joined by James Moody (on tenor, alto and flute), pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Chris White and drummer Rudy Collins, was in peak form during that era and hopefully all of his other Philips recordings will also be reissued by Verve in the future. Although the liner notes deal only with The Cool World, the other set is actually of greater interest. Gillespie uplifts such tunes as the "Theme from Exodus," "Moon River," "Days of Wine and Roses," "Never on Sunday" and "Walk on the Wild Side," turning them into swinging jazz. The Cool World pieces (all composed by Mal Waldron) are also worth hearing although they are not as memorable overall. This set is a real historical curiosity and, although not essential, it is a release that should please Dizzy Gillespie fans while reminding others of how great a trumpeter he was before his long decline.
John McNeil had the idea of applying some of Gerry Mulligan's arranging principles to free jazz after arranging some of the late baritone saxophonist's music for a tribute band. Recruiting baritone saxophonist Alan Chase, bassist John Hebert, and the much in-demand drummer Matt Wilson, McNeil's experiment creates some provocative music. "Deadline" features a constantly shifting time signature, changing its mood throughout the piece, contrasting it with the more steady and loping "A Time to Go." McNeil's humorous take of "Bernie's Tune" (long a part of Mulligan's repertoire, though written by Bernie Miller) quickly takes it away from its roots for a wild ride on his horn into the world of free jazz. He also adapts Arnold Schoenberg's 12-tone classical music into his realm with his playful arrangement of "Schoenberg's Piano Concerto." Throughout the session the band is up to the challenges of McNeil's compelling music, producing a provocative CD that should open ears for decades to come.