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Various Artists: Douglas on Blue Note

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During the year or so that Alan Douglas was head honcho of United Artists’ jazz division, he made a significant contribution to its recorded literature. In retrospect, it seems he came out with a new album every week. In reality, some of the tracks date from 1954; others from 1957. Some were recorded in studios; others on location. Some were issued during Douglas’ tenure. The vast majority hails from ’62 — a year The Wire claims Douglas “brokered some of the most influential recordings of the time.” His was a concept of cross-pollination based on personalities more than styles. A few years later, UA was absorbed by the Blue Note catalog, eventually giving rise to this eclectic cross-section of fourteen diverse tracks.

Among the mix ‘n’ match classics: an aggressive Duke Ellington, backed by bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach on “Caravan;” tenorist John Coltrane with an uncharacteristically subdued Cecil Taylor, piano, playing “Just Friends;” a driving Bill Evans, piano, supported by guitarist Jim Hall for a way-up “My Funny Valentine;” Mingus’ Jazz Workshop doing “I Can’t Get Started,” with two still-fresh-sounding solos by altoist John Handy, and Master Mingus.

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