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Dinah Washington: The Complete Roulette Dinah Washington Recordings

As a maniacal completist, I’m a sucker for box sets. But box sets are like beautifully wrapped gifts. Size, and fancy casing, can be deceiving. Big packages don’t always come with enough good things. Too often I’ve been lured by slick cover art and the promise of voluminous, book-shaped liner notes, only to discover that the multiple discs deliver little or nothing that my CD library doesn’t already contain. Which is, I assume, why God created Mosaic. As any jazz fan with a taste for impeccable quality knows, Mosaic’s limited-edition sets are, unfailingly, sublime realization of substance over style.

Most of the Mosaic catalogue is devoted to instrumentalists. There is, however, a cozy corner of the Mosaic world reserved for vocalists that includes thick career slices of Anita O’Day, Mildred Bailey, Sarah Vaughan and the Four Freshmen. All maintain pride of place on my shelves. Now added to that select roster is this all-encompassing, five-disc salute-complete with meticulous biographical and session notes from Nadine Cohodas (author of the definitive Washington biography, Queen, published last year)-to the three final years of Dinah’s sadly brief career, spent at Morris Levy’s Roulette label.

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