Reece was born on 5 January 1931 in Kingston, Jamaica, the son of a silent film pianist. He attended the Alpha Boys School (famed in Jamaica for its musical alumni), switching from baritone to trumpet when he was 14 years old. A full-time musician from the age of 16, he moved to London in 1948 and spent the 1950s working in Europe, much of that time in Paris. He played with Don Byas, Kenny Clarke, Frank Foster and Thad Jones, among others.
Winning praise from the likes of Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, he emigrated to New York City in 1959, but found New York in the 1960s a struggle. Reece recorded a series of critically acclaimed records on the Blue Note label, which were reissued on Mosaic in 2004 that gave fans hope of a comeback. Still active as a musician and writer, Reece has recorded over the years with Victor Feldman, Tubby Hayes, Paris Reunion Band, Clifford Jordan’s Big Band, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, fellow trumpeter Ted Curson, pianist Duke Jordan, long-time Sun Ra alumni saxophonist John Gilmore and drummer Philly Joe Jones.
- Blue Note
- A New Star (Jasmine, 1955–56) with Phil Seamen
- Progress Report (Jasmine, 1956–58) with Victor Feldman, Tubby Hayes
- Asia Minor (New Jazz, 1962)
- From In to Out - Futura Ger 16 (1970)
- Possession, Exorcism, Peace (1974)
- Manhattan Project (1978) Bee Hive Records
- Blowin' Away (1978)
- Nirvana: The Zen of the Jazz Trumpet (2006)
- Mosaic Select: Dizzy Reece (MS-011) - compiles Blues in Trinity (1958), Star Bright (1959), Soundin' Off (1960), and Comin' On! (1960).
- Victor Feldman: Suite Sixteen (1955)
- Duke Jordan: Flight to Jordan (Blue Note, 1960)
- Dizzy Gillespie: The Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band (MPS, 1968)
- Dexter Gordon: A Day in Copenhagen (MPS, 1969)
- Hank Mobley: The Flip (Blue Note, 1969)
- Andrew Hill: Passing Ships (Blue Note, 1969)
- Ted Curson: Round About Midnight (1980)
- Clifford Jordan: Play What You Feel (1990)
- Clifford Jordan: Down Through The Years (Milestone, 1991)