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Herbie Harper with Bud Shank, Harry Babasin, Bob Enevoldsen, Virgil Gonsalves, Lou Levy and Jimmy Rowles: The Complete Noctourne Recordings Jazz in Hollywood Series, Volume 1

Harry Babasin and Roy Harte started the Nocturne label in 1953, when West Coast jazz was reaching full bloom. With bassist Babasin, drummer Harte, and pianist Jimmy Rowles as the core rhythm section, Nocturne operated for a couple of years. Many of Los Angeles’ young jazz stalwarts took part in the sessions. Everyone listed above recorded for the label, with sidemen including Shorty Rogers, Larry Bunker, Howard Roberts, Bob Gordon, Marty Paich, Don Heath, and Buddy Wise.

Since the 1950s, except for sporadic European efforts, the Nocturnes have remained unissued. Now, two companies have simultaneously released batches of them on CD. Fantasy’s OJC program has them as five individual discs. Jordi Pujol’s increasingly active Fresh Sound label, working from Nocturne’s master tapes, puts eight sessions on three CDs in a box. Fantasy has two dates by tenor saxophonist Steve White that are not included in the Fresh Sound box. Fresh Sound, but not Fantasy, has a Jimmy Rowles trio session recorded but never issued by Nocturne. It turned up briefly on a Liberty LP as Rare But Well Done. This leaves consumers with choices and expense, but they can be grateful; for 40 years the choices did not exist.

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