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Bluebird Continues Centennial Collection

Back in March, the Bluebird label introduced its Centennial Collection, a series of best-of packages that celebrated the 100th birthdays of Fats Waller and Glenn Miller. People bought them. So, Bluebird will release another round of Centennial Collections on August 24, this time spotlighting the careers of Duke Ellington (pictured), Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins and Artie Shaw

Each CD will feature classic tracks from these key artists in newly remastered in 24-bit sound. The bonus component of each release is a DVD that features video material on the artist, from interviews to rarely viewed performances. Here’s some info on each release:

Duke Ellington: The Centennial Collection offers a sampling of music the maestro recorded with his band including 13 cuts recorded between 1927 and 1942 and eight previously unreleased broadcast selections by Ellington’s 1941 band with bassist Jimmie Blanton and saxophonist Ben Webster. The DVD captures Ellington and his band in short-film format. All eight of his films during 1934 and 1943 are included, with guest vocalists such as Billie Holiday, Ivie Anderson and Herb Jeffries. A previously unissued 11-minute audio interview with Duke is also featured on the DVD.

Benny Goodman: The Centennial Collection collects 21 tunes the clarinetist recorded between 1935 and 1939. The operative word in this collection is swing, which the bandleader spearheaded into worldwide popularity during these years. But also featured are Goodman’s small-band forays into chamber jazz. The music on this package highlights many of Goodman’s integral sidemen, including Bunny Berigan, Lionel Hampton, Harry James, Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson, who all became stars thanks to their contributions in this band. The DVD includes footage from feature films made in the late ’30s and early ’40s in which Goodman’s bands appeared, including Hollywood Hotel, The Powers Girl and Stage Door Canteen. Bonus videos come from a 1960 Ed Sullivan Show performance and the 1966 Belgian Jazz Festival.

Coleman Hawkins: The Centennial Collection captures the tenor saxophonist performing the music that made him one of the jazz titans. This collection offers a sampling of his music beginning in 1929. Included in the CD is Hawkins’ timeless 1939 recording of “Body and Soul” that liner note writer Dan Morgenstern cites as “among the handful of perfect jazz records.” Also included are tunes where Hawkins plays with fellow tenor man Sonny Rollins (“Just Friends”) and trombonist J.J. Johnson and trumpeter Fats Navarro (“Half Step Down”). The DVD material includes three tunes from the short-lived, late-’50s TV series Jazz Party, a tune from a network TV appearance and a rare performance from a TV pilot that featured Hawkins.

Artie Shaw: The Centennial Collection collects 20 tunes that reflect the genius of the clarinetist and bandleader. Before signing with RCA Victor in 1938, Shaw led several bands, none of which had commercial success. But under the Victor umbrella, he soon became a star on the merits of two hits, “Indian Love Call” and Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.” Eight selections included in this package were recorded during radio broadcasts. DVD material includes a 1939 movie short called Class in Swing, an excerpt from the comedy film Second Chorus starring Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith, and a 2001 interview with Shaw in support of his Bluebird box set Self Portrait.

Originally Published