Cab Calloway's eccentric personality and wild onstage antics often overshadowed his musical contributions, when in fact, as this superb Columbia sampler demonstrates, the two went hand in hand. On all-time classic tracks like "The Jumpin' Jive," "Reefer Man," and the inexhaustible "Minnie the Moocher," the Hi-Di-Ho man's exuberance and vitality as a performer is grounded by his tight bandleading and the outstanding playing of his orchestra (which, over the years, included such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Barefield and Chu Berry).
Some of Count Basie's finest recordings were cut for the Roulette label during 1957-1962, and all of his studio performances are included on this massive Mosaic ten-CD boxed set. Among the classic former LPs that are reissued here are The Atomic Mr. Basie, Basie Plays Hefti, Chairman of the Board, Everyday I Have the Blues, and Kansas City Suite. With such soloists as trumpeters Thad Jones and Joe Newman, the tenors of Frank Foster and Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Frank Wess on alto and flute, vocals by Joe Williams, and the timeless arrangements of Neal Hefti, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Ernie Wilkins, and Frank Wess among others, this essential (but unfortunately limited-edition) set features the second Count Basie Orchestra at its very best.
Although Cocker's Capitol material wasn't as consistent as his A&M work, this compilation successfully distills the highlights, including the splendid "When the Night Comes," onto a single CD.