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The Jazz Moods Series

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Louis Armstrong
Jazz Moods | Hot: Louis Armstrong
Columbia
2005

The Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings are the hallmark of any jazz collection, but they're also some of the finest jazz records ever made. They will always be a cornerstone of the Columbia catalog, and deserve to be remastered and reissued every time new technology permits the quality of the recordings to improve. For those who are reluctant to shell out the money for the complete set (or the cheaper JSP box) this disc skims the cream off of the top. So much has been written and said about these recordings that nothing can really be added. Suffice it to say that jazz was virtually invented through these recordings. Armstrong had already developed the vocabulary for the jazz solo and the template for jazz singing, both of which continue to this day to be the wells which jazz artists return to time and time again for inspiration. Nothing beats the complete recordings, but in a pinch these will do.

Artie Shaw
Jazz Moods | Hot: Artie Shaw
Columbia
2005

Although Benny Goodman may have responsible for making swing popular, Shaw was another bandleader who enjoyed tremendous success during the Swing Era. He was always dissatisfied with being merely a peddler of popular tunes; he even claimed to hate "Begin The Beguine, his biggest hit. His experiments in composition and orchestration pushed the boundaries of what was expected from a big band, not always to the public's liking and finally quite the music business altogether in 1954, cutting short a career that promised much more great music to come. This compilation consists of tracks from Bluebird, where Shaw did his best work. Keeping true to the "hot designation, these tracks are all up-tempo numbers; in fact, "Beguine is the most subdued track here. There are plenty of classic gems from Shaw's halcyon days, focusing on hot swing in lieu of his more daring side. Thus Shaw's disc doesn't offer a full portrait of one the greatest bandleader of the swing era, but does demonstrate why he was one of the most popular. For a brief period of time, Shaw stole the King of Swing designation away from Goodman. These tracks show why.

Glenn Miller
Jazz Moods | Hot: Glenn Miller
Columbia
2005

Today Glenn Miller is often regarded as a purveyor of polite dance tunes played for a crowd who didn't want to ruin their evening by breaking a sweat. However, this collection demonstrates that Miller's band could swing as hard as anybody's when given the opportunity. The dreamy ballads and vocal spotlights are jettisoned in favor of the hot swing tracks that Miller employed from time to time. "In The Mood is here, of course, as well as "Chattanooga Choo-Choo, his two biggest hits. But we also get a rousing version of "King Porter Stomp and a high-powered "Glen Island Special. Tracks like these made Miller so popular that he was able to attract the top soloists to his band. Many of his numbers don't make good use of the talent on the bandstand, but most of these tracks feature fiery soloists who make the most of their time in the spotlight. Miller sometimes seems marooned in the World War II era, but this compilation showcases a fresh, swinging orchestra that could hold its own with any band of the time.

Chet Baker
Jazz Moods | Cool: Chet Baker
Columbia
2005

The shrunken, skeletal Chet Baker of the '70s sure didn't look like he could still play, but these tracks from the CTI label prove otherwise. He's reunited with Gerry Mulligan for a few tracks from a Carnegie Hall concert and plays with Paul Desmond on an 18-minute track from Jim Hall's Concierto. Elsewhere he is seen fronting his own groups, playing bold trumpet and contributing the wispy vocals that made him famous. Since this is an entry from the "cool side of the series, there's much of Baker's romantic side on display and little evidence of his agility at faster tempos. "My Funny Valentine, the song most associated with him, is included, and there's also a lovely version of "What'll I Do, a little-known Irving Berlin melody. The Fender Rhodes and electric pianos may date this compilation too much for some ears, but there's no doubt that Baker was still capable of producing some fine work even after lots of people had written him off as another casualty of the jazz lifestyle.

Dexter Gordon
Jazz Moods | 'Round Midnight: Dexter Gordon
Columbia
2005

In the '60s Dexter Gordon reestablished himself as a stellar musician to a whole new generation of fans simply by refusing to change his style at all. He pulled the same trick a decade later after he returned from a lengthy stay in Europe and signed with Columbia. This compilation samples the next decade's worth of work and wisely focuses on Gordon's beautiful ballad playing. His tidy and elegant solos are backed largely by a basic rhythm section that gives him plenty of room to unravel long, melodic phrases that reinterpret the melodies without straying too far from the original. These are mostly songs from movies such as "As Time Goes By from Casablanca, but he also tackles two Monk tunes (appropriately, one is "'Round Midnight from the soundtrack to the movie where he had the starring role). Sometimes Gordon gets lost in the shuffle when it comes to important saxophonists, but he deserves credit as one of the most impeccable balladeers ever to pick up the horn.

Stanley Turrentine
Jazz Moods | Cool: Stanley Turrentine
Columbia
2005

Stanley Turrentine did some of his best work for the CTI label in the '70s and produced a couple of the few fusion records that still sound good today. Sugar is the classic work from this era, but this compilation features other worthy entries from the saxophonist's rich catalog. These songs aren't "cool in the traditional sense of sultry ballads and sentimental readings of standards, but rather operate on a slow simmer with plenty of groovy rhythms. Creed Taylor had a tendency to overproduce his artists and there are a few tracks here that could benefit from the loss of the overdubbed strings. But mostly this is a showcase for up-and-coming artists like George Benson and Billy Cobham, who either took jazz in new directions or ran it into the gutter, depending on your point of view. "Sugar is the track that tops them all, with tasty soloing from Benson, Turrentine and Freddie Hubbard. Although smooth jazz was beginning to creep in on the horizon, in the early '70s Turrentine proved that jazz and rock could exist peacefully to produce some soulful, steaming music.


Jazz Moods | Hot: Louis Armstrong
Tracks: 1. Hotter Than That 2. I'm Gonna Gitcha 3. Potato Head Blues 4. Chicago Breakdown 5. Cornet Chop Suey 6. Struttin' With Some Barbecue 7. Squeeze Me 8. Knee Drops 9. Fireworks 10. Save It, Pretty Mama 11. I'm Not Rough 12. Jazz Lips 13. Tight Like This 14. Don't Forget To Mess Around.

Jazz Moods | Hot: Artie Shaw
Tracks: 1. Everything Is Jumpin' 2. Traffic Jam 3. What Is This Thing Called Love? 4. Bedford Drive 5. Temptation 6. At Sundown 7. 'S Wonderful 8. Lucky Number 9. Just Kiddin' Around 10. Tabu 11. There'll Be Some Changes Made 12. Lady Day 13. Begin the Beguine 14. Diga Diga Doo.

Jazz Moods | Hot: Glenn Miller
Tracks: 1. In the Mood 2. Runnin' Wild 3. String Of Pearls 4. King Porter Stomp 5. American Patrol 6. The Lady's In Love With You 7. Little Brown Jug 8. Glen Island Special 9. Chattanooga Choo-Choo 10. Tuxedo Junction 11. The Rhumba Jumps 12. Song Of the Volga Boatmen 13. We Can Live On Love (We Haven't Got A Pot To Cook In) 14. Bugle Call Rag.

Jazz Moods | Cool: Chet Baker
Tracks: 1. Line For Lyons (live) 2. She Was Too Good For Me 3. Autumn Leaves 4. Concierto de Aranjuez 5. Tangerine 6. What'll I Do 7. My Funny Valentine.

Jazz Moods | 'Round Midnight: Dexter Gordon
Tracks: 1. As Time Goes By 2. Laura 3. Ruby, My Dear 4. You're Blasé 5. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square 6. How Long Has This Been Going On? 7. 'Round Midnight (live) 8. Body and Soul.

Jazz Moods | Cool: Stanley Turrentine
Tracks: 1. Make Me Rainbows 2. Pieces of Dreams 3. Sunshine Alley 4. Speed Ball 5. Don't Mess With Mister "T 6. Salt Song 7. Sugar.


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