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J.J. Johnson: The Complete Columbia Small Group Sessions

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Major labels receive abuse for their jazz policies and practices. Musicians and fans make accusations of inconsistency, opportunism and venality, often for good reason. Still, their resources create the potential for support of important work, and when they reach that potential it can be on a scale that influences the course of music.

Columbia Records has contributed its share to the lore of superficiality and boneheadedness among the majors. As an example, in the blinking of an eye, it signed, failed to support, dropped and forgot Ryan Kisor, possibly the most brillant of the new crop of trumpet players. Over the years, to the company’s credit, Columbia has also maintained a few major artists who were not big sellers. It’s library of recordings by J.J. Johnson is a major element of Columbia’s legacy. A few years ago, Columbia reissued on CD a mere nine tracks of the hundred or so that Johnson recorded in his four-and-a-half years with the label. It remained for the admirable Mosaic company to gather, organize and release the trombonist’s body of work for Columbia.

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