André Previn was just 16 years old when he recorded the earliest numbers on Previn at Sunset, but he was already a brilliant pianist and a busy arranger at the MGM studios. Most (but not quite all) of the recordings that he made for the Sunset and Monarch labels, among the earliest in his career, are here. A major swing stylist who had not yet been affected by bop, Previn is heard on some unaccompanied solos; in three different trios with such sidemen as guitarists Dave Barbour or Irving Ashby, bassists John Simmons, Eddie Safranski, or Red Callender, and drummer Lee Young; and a couple of jam tunes ("All the Things You Are" and "I Found a New Baby") with a sextet also either Buddy Childers or Howard McGhee on trumpet, altoist Willie Smith, and Vido Musso on tenor. The small group swing performances are quite enjoyable, and the teenage pianist easily keeps up with the other, more famous players.
With three discs featuring a total of 63 tracks, this is Mahalia Jackson's complete output for the Apollo label from 1946 to 1954. These are the recordings that brought Jackson to a national audience right up to her breakthrough with Columbia Records and the ones that literally made gospel recording history. Highlights can be found anywhere the laser beam falls on any of the three discs in this set, but her performances of "Go Tell It on the Mountain," "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," "In the Upper Room, Pts. 1 & 2" "Move on Up a Little Higher," "What Could I Do," "Ever Me," "I'm Going to Tell God," "Dig a Little Deeper," and "Walk with Me," "In My Home Over There," "Just Over the Hill, Pts. 1 & 2," and "Walking in Jerusalem" are too perfect for words and should simply be in everyone's gospel collection as some of the best the genre has to offer. Marvelous transfers of the original master tapes plus great notes by AMG contributor Opal Louis Nations are just extra icing on the cake to this essential collection.