The 43 tracks that make up the first part of the The Complete Decca Studio Master Takes 1940-1949 of Louis Armstrong are remarkable not only for the outstanding performances they reflect, but for the many settings Armstrong recorded in during the era. While none of this material will come as a surprise to collectors, those who are starting to check out Armstrong's post-New Orleans period would do themselves a favor in scoping this collection because the Decca years, even more so than his long tenure with Verve, showcase Armstrong at the pinnacle of American popular music, and that that music happens to be jazz is even more revelatory.
This is a rather incredible collection: ten CDs enclosed in a tight black box that includes every one of the recordings Verve owns of Billie Holiday, not only the many studio recordings of 1952-57 (which feature Lady Day joined by such jazz all-stars as trumpeters Charlie Shavers and Harry "Sweets" Edison, altoist Benny Carter, and the tenors of Flip Phillips, Paul Quinichette and Ben Webster). Also included are prime performances at Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts in 1945-1947, an enjoyable European gig from 1954, her "comeback" Carnegie Hall concert of 1956, Holiday's rather sad final studio album from 1959, and even lengthy tapes from two informal rehearsals. It's a perfect purchase for the true Billie Holiday fanatic.
Jimmy Smith wasn't the first organ player in jazz, but no one had a greater influence with the instrument than he did; Smith coaxed a rich, grooving tone from the Hammond B-3, and his sound and style made him a top instrumentalist in the 1950s and '60s, while a number of rock and R&B keyboardists would learn valuable lessons from Smith's example.
The complete memorable recordings made by Billie Holiday in 1956-57 backed by a small group including Ben Webster, Harry Edison, Jimmy Rowles and Barney Kessel. A complete Holiday set recorded at Newport during the same period has been added as a bonus. Includes 16-page booklet.
The Savoy imprint, after being acquired by an assortment of companies over the years, has been reinvigorated to celebrate its 60th anniversary. This three-disc set includes all of Parker's work for the Dial and Savoy labels (excluding alternate takes–hence the title). It starts off with his appearance as a sideman with the Tiny Grimes Quintette, at which time the 24-year-old's alto saxophone playing bears his unmistakable stamp of fluidity and daring aplomb. The stellar lights of bebop are heard throughout this set, as Parker plays with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Max Roach, creating the enduring shape of contemporary jazz.
That sound. One group conceived it. Defined it. Perfected it. The Modern Jazz Quartet was certainly one of the most distinctive voices in the history of jazz, thanks to the unique qualities of personal expression and collective vision of its members Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Percy Heath and Connie Kay (who had replaced original drummer Kenny Clarke by the time the band started recording this music). They were also exceptionally prolific during their tenure at Atlantic Records, producing 14 albums in eight years. And now, that MJQ sound gets the complete respect it deserves, thanks to our new box, The Complete 1956-1964 Modern Jazz Quartet Atlantic Studio Recordings.