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Dizzy Reece: Mosaic Select 11: Dizzy Reece

In the mid-1950s, the likes of Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins put the word out on Dizzy Reece, who then split his time between London and Paris. Subsequently, the Jamaican-born trumpeter was sought out by a who’s-who of American jazz greats, including the other Dizzy. In ’58, trumpeter Donald Byrd and drummer Art Taylor recorded with Reece in a London session including tenor saxophonist Tubby Hayes and pianist Terry Shannon of the Jazz Couriers, then the premier U.K. hard-bop unit. To avoid the wrath of the powerful British Musicians Union, the resulting album-Blues in Trinity-producer Tony Hall created the hoax that the date was cut in Paris. Though the album survives as a second-tier Blue Note classic (it was among the first two dozen Connoisseurs Series releases), the initial buzz it created was sufficient to bring Reece to the U.S., where he led several sessions for Blue Note in a eight-month span ending in mid-’60. The four resulting albums have been collected in this Mosaic Select set, documenting one of the many rich minor chapters in the label’s history.

Already a veteran at 27 when Blues in Trinity was waxed, Reece had a sound that could rip through the ranks of a big band. Subsequently, the trumpeter could fly confidently with Byrd on such Reece originals as “Close-Up,” a well-turned blues line, and the capering “Shepherd’s Serenade,” a fine vehicle for Taylor’s trademark propulsion. Significantly, these are the only tracks on which Byrd performs, leaving the frontline chores for most of the date to Reece and Hayes, whose prodigious talent is well-represented on such varied tracks as the title tune, a rhythmically flexible blues, and Monk’s “‘Round About Midnight.” The work of Hayes, the undervalued Shannon and the solid, if unimposing Canadian bassist Lloyd Thompson may have been the exception to the rule that Europeans were a cut below their American counterparts, but it was a glaring one, as Blues in Trinity is as good as Reece’s subsequent Blue Notes.

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