Okay, so your officemate, or your son
, for goodness' sake, comes up and asks you, "What is this 'jazz,' anyway?" Time to haul out GRP's Priceless Jazz Collection Sampler
. You get Billie Holiday sounding a trifle detached ("Good Morning Heartache"); Ella Fitzgerald scatting with as much verve as ever ("Oh, Lady Be Good"); Louis Armstrong playing no trumpet at all but singing as paradoxically sweetly as his famously grainy voice ever managed to allow ("What a Wonderful World"); Johnny Hartman lending his lushest of voices to the lushest of tunes ("Lush Life" and yes, that's John Coltrane playing that yearning, brilliantine tenor saxophone); 'Trane in a sunny and straightforward mood ("Bessie's Blues"); Sonny Rollins sounding bright, rich and adventurous ("Three Little Words"); Pharoah Sanders in one of the most compelling of his avant-jungle early Seventies workouts ("Thembi"); Charles Mingus swinging extra hard ("Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul"); Duke Ellington showing the world where Mingus learned his stuff ("The Jeep is Jumpin'"); Gato Barbieri taking us way down South-and I mean way down ("Milonga Triste"); and Chick Corea in a delightful trio spin from 1989 ("Spain").
What more could you ask for? Almost everyone is shown to good effect. The cuts are all good. The question would be, Who needs a sampler like this? Well, T. S. Monk was in Jazz Times not long ago decrying jazz's "welfare mentality" and calling for better marketing of this music. Perhaps this is a step in the right direction. Now if every jazz fan would buy a copy to give to a jazz-hating friend, maybe, just maybe...