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Various Artists: Jazz Piano Anthology

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At Laserlight’s modest prices, these two anthologies are wonderful values for beginners anxious to experience the broad scope of the piano and saxophone in jazz. The first, I believe, is the better, or more representative of the vital, innovative core. The artists are, of course, determined to a large extent by the material available to Laserlight. Helped by reinforcements from labels like Delmark and Savoy, the company has done very well, for over 30 significant players are featured. The most notable absentees are The Lion, Nat Cole, Pete Johnson, Jay McShann and Ralph Sutton.

In the saxophone set, the omissions seem more numerous, but that is understandable enough, given the greater number of “stars” to consider. Nevertheless, the absence of men like Sidney Bechet, Harry Carney, Chu Berry, Bud Freeman, Herschel Evans, Paul Gonsalves, Buddy Tate, Budd Johnson, Arnett Cobb and Scott Hamilton is a serious matter.

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