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Earl Hines: Classic Earl Hines Sessions 1928-1945

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Mosaic’s Classic Earl Hines Sessions: 1928-1945 begins with four solo performances-“Caution Blues,” “A Monday Date,” “I Ain’t Got Nobody” and “57 Varieties”-that set the template for the future path of jazz piano. Art Tatum, then 18, paid close attention. So did Teddy Wilson, then 16, who would observe Hines firsthand during an early ’30s residence in Chicago, where Hines had moved from Pittsburgh in 1924. So did New Yorker Billy Kyle, whose modernistic approach with John Kirby’s Sextet would earn Bud Powell’s close attention. Chicagoan Nat Cole, a 1917 baby who would have known “Glad Rag Doll” (1929) and “Down Among the Sheltering Pines” (1932), extrapolated and smoothed out Hines’ hornlike melodic approach and vertiginous, between-the-beat left-hand.

The seven CDs include a for-the-ages 1940 encounter with Sidney Bechet, Rex Stewart and Baby Dodds, and an effervescent 1944 tribute to Hines’ idol, Fats Waller, with guitarist Al Casey and bassist Oscar Pettiford. But most of the 171 tracks comprise the Earl Hines Orchestra’s complete works for Brunswick (1929-1934), Vocalion (1937-1938) and Bluebird (1939-1945). That trail begins in February 1929, some six weeks after Hines, booked at the Grand Terrace, a new Capone-controlled South Side cabaret, assembled his first ensemble from local talent. With the Terrace as home base until 1940, Hines backed these sides with weekly national broadcasts-one aimed to the east, the other to the west-and frequent long-haul tours.

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