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Posts Tagged ‘jazz’

The compilers of the mid-1980’s Sunday Times Music Collection had the good sense to corral representative works of jazz legends Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, and Sonny Rollins on to this short-length CD.

All eight tracks shine, but the preternaturally talented Gillespie and the cool-plodding Monk take honors.

It is amazing to consider the down-and-out venues where music of this caliber was being made in this way at a time in American history when most of the artists recorded here were barred from the posh joints for reasons of color. Two days from the date of this short review, we inaugurate a Black president …

Cool.

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The Sunday Times Music Collection of the mid-1990s produced some fabulous compilations, of which Sax Appeal must rate as one of the best.

Twelve pieces, recorded by front-list bands between 1929 and 1944, are splashed across 35 minutes of play time.

This is quintessentially American music played by orchestras who usually had the conductor’s name in their title. Sadly, this 1995 CD appears not to be readily available.

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The eyes of my father’s generation still light up when the occasion arises to speak of Duke Elington, Harry James, Benny Goodman, and Django Reinhardt. These are the artists who, with their bands, contribute to this remarkable entry in the mid-90’s CD-a-week collection offered to subscribers by London’s Sunday Times.

Frankly speaking, the first four tracks—by the Duke—are enough to make you think we’ve been in terminal cultural decline ever since the likes of ‘Sophisticated Lady’ went silent. This is smooth, sophisticated, textured jazz with an enormity of understatement that commends it to repeated listening. Bombast was out, smooth was in. I have never heard a trombone sound so alive as the one in Ellington’s band on this album.

This remarkable 1994 release brings the sounds back with varying degrees of remastered clarity. No matter, even with a bit of static between some tracks and these ears, the music is golden.

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In the mid-1990s, the Times of London flogged a very cool disk-per-week club that was everything eclectic can mean. One of those CDs, betitled with formidable understatement simply Two Jazz Ladies, featured Ella and Billie, two African-American stage presences who set the bar on what it meant for a lady to sing the blues. (more…)

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