This double–disc set — the first devoted to Jazz, the second to blues — is designed to give the listener a broad overview of the sort of music produced by Delmark Records since Bob Koester established the Chicago–based label some 45 years ago. Delmark actually began life in St. Louis before relocating to Chicago with Koester, who owns the Windy City’s Jazz Record Mart, in 1958. While known primarily as a conduit for blues and traditional Jazz, Delmark has at times broadened its inventory to embrace such avant–garde musicians and groups as Sun Ra, Malachi Thompson, Ari Brown and the NRG Ensemble, all of whom are represented on Disc 1 (not to mention Roscoe Mitchell, who isn’t). At least two selections on that disc predate the label itself, Arnett Cobb’s “Arnett Blows for 1300” from late 1947 and Tab Smith’s “Because of You” from August 1951. On Disc 2, Robert Nighthawk’s “Seventy–Four” was recorded in October 1952. Koester’s anecdote–laden liner notes, which rival anything on the discs in terms of interest, contain no explanation for these anomalies. Also on Disc 1 are veterans Cecil Payne, Jodie Christian and Barrett Deems (who recorded his second big–band album, Groovin’ Hard, about nine months before his passing last September at age 84), and a couple of rising–star saxophonists, Eric Alexander and Frank Catalano, along with the more traditional Norrie Cox & His New Orleans Stompers and George Lewis’ New Orleans Jazz Band. I’m hardly qualified to comment on the substance of Disc 2 except to say that a number of well–known purveyors of the blues are represented including Magic Sam, Lurrie Bell, Mighty Joe Young, Jimmy Dawkins, Johnny B. Moore, Junior Wells and others. Fans of Jazz and blues are indebted to Koester and Delmark for all that they’ve done over these 45 years to help keep the music alive. Long may they swing.
Track listing: Disc 1 — Norrie Cox, San Jacinto Stomp; George Lewis, Gettysburg March; Arnett Cobb & His Orchestra, Arnett Blows for 1300; Tab Smith, Because of You; Barrett Deems Big Band, Drum Boogie; Sun Ra, Call for All Demons; Cecil Payne, Cerupa; Jodie Christian, Willow Weep for Me; Frank Catalano, God Made It Beautiful; Eric Alexander, Sugar Ray; Ari Brown, One for Luba; Malachi Thompson, 47th Street; NRG Ensemble, Hyperspace (73:21). Disc 2 — Jimmy Burns, Leaving Here Walking; The Rockin’ Johnny Band, Sugar Mama; Magic Sam, I Don’t Want No Woman; Lurrie Bell, I’ve Got Papers on You Baby; Floyd McDaniel, I Want a Little Girl; Mighty Joe Young, Why, Baby?; Karen Carroll, Ain’t It Nice; Jimmy Dawkins & Big Voice Odom, All for Business; James Wheeler, This Old Freight Train; Robert Nighthawk, Seventy–Four; Little Sammy Davis, I Ain’t Lyin’; Byther Smith, Look Over Your Shoulder; Aaron Moore, What Did You Do to Me; Johnny B. Moore, Back Door Friend; Dave Specter & Lenny Lynn, Blues Spoken Here; Junior Wells, Love Her with a Feeling (73:39).