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.
It's fitting that singer Billie Holiday began the most celebrated part of her career with Columbia in 1933, when the country was in the throes of the depression, and ended it in 1942, when the world was gripped by war. Her anguished delivery fit in perfectly with the times. As she projected the torments of her life through music, she gave us an escape from our own troubles, by reminding us of how bad life could get. Regardless, Holiday's sublime Columbia recordings, which originally appeared on the Brunswick, Vocalion and Okeh labels, are among the true treasures of jazz. The complete recordings were released a few years ago in a mammoth box set. This four CD collection pares the material down considerably, although the producers have not just taken the cream of the crop…
THE COMPLETE COLUMBIA STUDIO RECORDINGS compiles all of Miles Davis' collaborations with composer/arranger Gil Evans. Included are the original and alternate versions of the four albums that Davis and Evans made together–MILES AHEAD, PORGY AND BESS, SKETCHES OF SPAIN and QUIET NIGHTS–as well as various outtakes and unreleased tracks. More than half of the material is previously unreleased. THE COMPLETE COLUMBIA STUDIO RECORDINGS won 1997 Grammy Awards for Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes (by George Avakian, Bob Belden, Bill Kirchner and Phil Schaap), and Best Recording Package - Boxed.
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.
A killer collection of this unique musical moment from Gerry Mulligan – with material that appeared on the albums Concert Jazz Band, Concert Jazz Band At The Village Vanguard, A Concert In Jazz, Concert Jazz Band On Tour Guest Soloist Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan 63 – plus unissued tracks, too! This four disc-set contains all of the existing Concert Band Sessions from May 1960 to December 1962, and makes available for the first time five previously unreleased performances. Some seven others, whose original tapes are either missing or lost, are notated here for the sake of discography. This was, arguably – after and aside from Mulligan's piano-less quartet with Chet Baker – the most visionary music he ever made. It eclipses his nonet recordings of the 1950s because of the sophisticated charts written by trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, and the writing Mulligan was doing formed the strength of this band – though this is not immediately apparent at the outset of Disc One. The set commences with a version of the band that included six brass, four reeds, Mulligan on baritone (and piano occasionally), bass, and drums.
Documenting Stan Kenton's always controversial but never sleepy music, the seven-CD Complete Capitol Studio Recordings of Stan Kenton 1943-47 features the orchestra at a time when it was reaching its greatest popularity, evolving from using the artist's charts into the Pete Rugolo era. In addition to some unreleased tracks, there are also several rare sessions included that were recorded at the time strictly for radio airplay. Most of Kenton's biggest hits ("Artistry in Rhythm," "Eager Beaver," "And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine," "Tampico," "Southern Scandal," "Artistry Jumps," "Intermission Riff," "Across the Alley From the Alamo," and "The Peanut Vendor") are here, as are many concert works. A classic reissue.