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.
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.
Hip-O Select’s 2010 double-disc set Sweet Dreams: The Complete Decca Masters (1960-1963) gathers all of the 51 master takes Patsy Cline recorded with Owen Bradley after she left 4 Star Records for Decca in 1960, running right until her tragic death in 1963. This is the first time all these master takes have been issued in a complete set, which is hard to believe because they form the core of Cline’s legacy. Patsy had been recording frequently since 1954 when she first signed a deal with 4 Star, but the label’s president, Bill McCall, insisted that she only recorded songs for which he owned the publishing rights, a restrictive deal that resulted in only one hit, the classic career-making “Walkin’ After Midnight.”
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.
Tal Farlow, was an innovative self-taught jazz guitarist who influenced generations of guitarists following in his footsteps. Although some of his peak years as a recording artist occurred during his association with Verve between 1954 and 1959, relatively few of the tracks were available for decades until the release of this comprehensive Mosaic box set. The music is consistently brilliant, as the leader's solos seem to evolve effortlessly, often finding fresh ground in the many standards and classic jazz compositions performed in this set. Aside from the three opening tracks from Farlow's days as a member of vibraphonist Red Norvo's trio, the guitarist is the leader.