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Duke Ellington: The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings

A massive project, but one well worth the effort and time that went into it, this collection of all existing recordings by Duke Ellington for Victor literally sums up his long career, since it begins with singer Evelyn Preer’s “If You Can’t Hold the Man You Love” from January 10, 1927, and concludes with the … Read More “Duke Ellington: The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings”

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The Bob Florence Limited Edition: Serendipity 18

Once upon a time, when hundreds of big bands roamed this continent in search of bread and success, conditions were not as favorable as they are now. Gigs may have been more plentiful in those ballroom- and theater-filled decades, but life on the road was certainly not conducive to good health or financial stability, as … Read More “The Bob Florence Limited Edition: Serendipity 18”

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Rick Fay: Words Among the Reeds

A lifetime enthusiast and performer of classic and mainstream jazz, veteran reedman Rick Fay devoted his two most recent recording projects to themes long close to his heart-the first, a tribute to some of the jazzmen who meant the most to him throughout his formative years and lengthy subsequent career, and the next, a longtime … Read More “Rick Fay: Words Among the Reeds”

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Nicholas Payton/Lew Soloff/Tom Harell/Eddie Henderson: Trumpet Legacy

Although not as common as recorded colloquys among stylistically related saxophonists, there is nevertheless a similar tradition of trumpeters that goes back to at least 1944, when Roy Eldridge, Joe Thomas, and Emmett Berry combined their severally directed voices to produce a session still noted for its remarkable cohesion. Many changes in the language of … Read More “Nicholas Payton/Lew Soloff/Tom Harell/Eddie Henderson: Trumpet Legacy”

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Erroll Garner: Contrasts

Now in its 70th year of recorded history, the illustrious genre of acoustic jazz guitar duo playing here receives one of its finest tributes in many decades, as Bucky and John, father and son, unite once again to honor not only the giants who preceded them-Eddie Lang, Dick McDonough, Carl Kress, George Van Eps, and … Read More “Erroll Garner: Contrasts”

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Ruby Braff: You Can Depend On Me

Among the swing-based trumpeters of the last 50 years, Ruby Braff, perhaps the last great abstract expressionist in jazz, has not only loomed larger than others for the instant identifiability of his tone and phrasing, but also for his indefatigable support of quality standards, those either completely overlooked by his peers or those played a … Read More “Ruby Braff: You Can Depend On Me”

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Franco D’Andrea New Quartet: Jobim

As distinct from the relatively faithful bossa nova-styled interpretations of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s music that so many post-’60s jazzmen and other types of musicians have been recording over the decades, Italian pianist D’Andrea chose to apply a free-flowing contemporary jazz approach to this richly melodic material. Towards that end, in the xpostion of 11 Jobim … Read More “Franco D’Andrea New Quartet: Jobim”

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John Hicks: Hicks Time

Largely pastel-hued and softly intoned, the 12 piano solos documented here by John Hicks include only two numbers not of his own devising, the balladic “Reminds Me,” which title is omitted from the trayback listing, and the bouncy, blues informed “Jest a Little,” both the work of reedman Oliver Lake, who also functions as session … Read More “John Hicks: Hicks Time”

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Ken Peplowski: Grenadilla

In this most recent addition to Ken Peplowski’s growing catalog of leader dates for Concord Jazz, the highly skilled clarinetist continues to expand his reach so as to include even more variety within his already voluminous embrace. Using a core rhythm team of pianist Ben Aronov, bassist Greg Cohen, and drummer Chuck Redd, Peps also … Read More “Ken Peplowski: Grenadilla”

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Marian McPartland: Just Friends

McPartland has probably done more for proselytization of her art than any other musician save Billy Taylor. Among her many accomplishments over the five decades she has spent on these shores has been her Piano Jazz show on NPR, a series initiated in 1978 and which brougth her into intimate, mutually revealing and inspiriing duo … Read More “Marian McPartland: Just Friends”

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Hal Crook: Hero Worship

Working in conjunction with only Mick Goodrick’s supple guitar and the drums of longtime post-bop favorite Paul Motian, Hal Crook, perhaps the silkiest trombonist of this generation, introduces here five of his own compositions along with his highly idiosyncratic interpretations of “Night And Day,” “My Funny Valentine,” “You Do Something To Me” and Steve Swallow’s … Read More “Hal Crook: Hero Worship”

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Dexter Gordon/Ben Webster: Tenor Titans

Composed entirely of previously unreleased concert performances recorded in Denmark, Tenor Titans first showcases Gordon in 1972 with the Thomas Clausen Trio playing his own “Sticky Wicket” and then with Palle Mikkelborg’s big band on “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me.” Next, Webster is brought on to play “Our Love Is Here To Stay” … Read More “Dexter Gordon/Ben Webster: Tenor Titans”

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Steve Slagle Quartet: Alto Blue

With an occasional, well-intoned nod in the direction of Ornette Coleman’s early pianoless combos, altoist/flutist Steve Slagle here engages the talents of young-lionesque trumpeter-fluegelhornist Ryan Kisor, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Gene Jackson for an exploration of tunes embodying the feeling, if not always the precise structure and harmonic basis, of the standard blues. Slagle … Read More “Steve Slagle Quartet: Alto Blue”

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Marty Grosz Quartet: Just For Fun!

Like Eddie Condon, one of his early mentors, acoustic guitarist and vocalist Marty Grosz has always preferred playing in small combos. The present occasion, as recorded live in Hamburg’s Amerika Haus, is no different in that respect from the many stateside sessions he has recorded over the years under such fanciful names as Destiny’s Tots, … Read More “Marty Grosz Quartet: Just For Fun!”

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Benny Goodman: The Complete RCA Victor Small Group Recordings

If hearkened to by today’s young reed players, especially those not yet discouraged by the clarinet’s many challenges, these 1935-39 recordings of the Benny Goodman Trio and Quartet might just prove an inspiration. But even if they don’t succeed in swaying a contemporary generation to contemplate the beauties and challenges of this style of jazz, … Read More “Benny Goodman: The Complete RCA Victor Small Group Recordings”

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Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: Big Band Treasures, Live

Although justified by an admirable desire to preserve in live performance classic jazz arrangements from the past, the very concept of repertory orchestras has been under assault from various quarters ever since the inception of the movement in the 1970s. Collectors whose shelves and memories were both already well-stocked questioned the relevancy of verbatim reiterations … Read More “Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: Big Band Treasures, Live”

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Brass Tacks Jazz Orchestra: First Track

From its origins at Joliet Junior College in 1969-’70, Brass Tacks has evolved from a student rehearsal band into one whose members are now largely dependent on day gigs to make ends meet, all the while maintaining professional chops on their respective instruments. The variety of jobs represented among the bandsmen include policeman, waitress, piano … Read More “Brass Tacks Jazz Orchestra: First Track”

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Bud Shank: By Request: Bud Shank Meets The Rhythm Section

Now in his early 70s, altoman Bud Shank has at long last ridden himself of the image of emotionally restrained cerebration that has dogged his trail ever since the years of West Coast Cool, when he first came to symbolize almost everything that the emerging hard boppers in the East openly derided. Indeed, on his … Read More “Bud Shank: By Request: Bud Shank Meets The Rhythm Section”

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Duke Ellington: Berlin ’65/ Paris ’67

It never ceases to amaze serious students of Ellingtonia how some critics and historians, in their justifiable enthusiasm over the band’s glorious triumphs 40 to 70 years ago, could denigrate Duke’s latter day work, especially the many brilliant concert performances that have been coming to light with happy regularity in recent times. Previously unreleased, the … Read More “Duke Ellington: Berlin ’65/ Paris ’67”

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Teddy Wilson: The Complete Verve Recordings Of The Teddy Wilson Trio

The 1930s were rife with jazz pianists of unprecedented and rarely surpassed originality, all the way from early stride masters James P. Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith through Fats Waller, Earl Hines, Art Tatum, Joe Sullivan, Jess Stacy, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie to the boogie woogie giants, Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis and … Read More “Teddy Wilson: The Complete Verve Recordings Of The Teddy Wilson Trio”

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Slidewerke: Trombania

Formerly known as The National Slide Quartet, Slidewerke is probably the only group of its kind in the world, as its entire personnel consists of only four hornmen, playing a capella in various combinations of tenor, symphonic, bass and contrabass trombones. The eminently pleasing collective timbre that Hollywood studiomen Bruce Otto, Alex Iles, Dave Ryan … Read More “Slidewerke: Trombania”

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Billy Taylor Trio: Music Keeps Us Young

On this first release by his current working trio, renowned pianist, educator, and jazz spokesman Billy Taylor belies 75 years of life with his cheerfully infectious, flawlessly articulated performances of six standards and five of his 300-odd compositions. Of the latter, we hear the swinging, gospel-grooved, civil rights anthem, “I Wish I Knew How It … Read More “Billy Taylor Trio: Music Keeps Us Young”

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Jelly Roll Morton: The Piano Rolls

For the first time since their initial appearance in 1923, Jelly Roll Morton’s piano rolls can now be heard in a manner far more closely reflective of real performance sound than even the digitally remastered reissues of his best-made Victor phonograph recordings. Using advanced computer technology in conjunction with a nine-foot Disklavier reproducing keyboard, pianist … Read More “Jelly Roll Morton: The Piano Rolls”

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Kenny Davern: Breezin’ Along

Knowing no equal within his community of fellow jazz clarinetists, Kenny Davern’s tone is large, broad, woody, and warm in the manner of his primary New Orleans influences, Jimmie Noone and Irving Fazola, yet it can also summon up the urgency and raging heat of his Chicago-styled mentors, Frank Teschemacher and Pee Wee Russell. But … Read More “Kenny Davern: Breezin’ Along”

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Various Artists: Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions

Departing from its customary practice of presenting complete sets of single artists or bands, Mosaic here brings to light 65 sessions recorded for Capitol by various groups of jazzmen between 1942 and 1953, their major connecting factor being that, for the most part, they have not been available since their initial appearance on 78s, EPs, … Read More “Various Artists: Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions”

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Sonny Rollins: Silver City

Constantly having to live up to a nagging reputation for being “the world’s greatest living improviser” must weigh heavily on anyone’s shoulders, even if those shoulders be as broad as Sonny Rollins. For more than 40 years, Sonny’s unequaled way with melodies and rhythms has been lauded by scores of writers, but for at least … Read More “Sonny Rollins: Silver City”

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Glenn Miller: The Secret Broadcasts

Although it’s not unusual for record labels to apply some ballyhoo techniques to their promotional campaigns, it does seem especially misleading that RCA chose to cloak its most recent Glenn Miller release in a mantle of mystery. As a follow-up to the well-received British set, The Lost Recordings, The Secret Broadcasts offers a collection of … Read More “Glenn Miller: The Secret Broadcasts”

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