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"The Golden Era of jazz is back! proclaims the press release for this DVD series featuring full-length concerts and studio performances by some of the greatest jazz stars ever. Mostly filmed in B&W in Europe from the '50s-'70s, none of the footage has been available previously nor in many instances has it ever been aired. Each DVD includes a 16-page booklet, with many rare photos and essays by jazz historians such as Will Friedwald, Rob Bowman and Ira Gitler.
The delights are many. Could life ever seem sweeter than through Louis Armstrong's beaming delivery of "La Vie En Rose ? Or in savoring the Zen-like concentration of Monk on an old chestnut, "Lulu's Back In Town," in performances only months apart, each different in what he mines each time. A 1979 interview with Chet Baker before a set is a rare and revealing glimpse into an enigmatic prince of cool. When he expresses the wish to live another ten years one can't help flinching, knowing he missed achieving that goal. Dizzy's sets contrast his leadership of a 1958 small group with fronting the 1979 Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band.
Maybe another sign of time passing, but everyone looks so endearingly young here. And the guys are fashionably au courant in pipestem trousers. Musically incidental, such elements do add to the overall richness.
Louis Armstrong - Belgium 1959: When It's Sleepy Time Down South; Back Home Again In Indiana; Basin Street Blues; Tiger Rag; Now You Has Jazz; Love Is Just Around The Corner; C'est Si Bon; Mack The Knife; Stompin' At The Savoy; St. Louis Blues; Ko-Ko-Mo (I Love You So); When The Saints Go Marching In; La Vie En Rose.
Count Basie - Sweden 1962: Easin' It; You Are Too Beautiful; Cornet Pocket; Stella By Starlight; Back To The Apple; I Needs To Be Bee'd With; I Got Rhythm; Back Water Blues; Alexander's Ragtime Band; Old Man River; One O'Clock Jump.
Chet Baker - Belgium 1964, Norway 1979: Bye Bye Blackbird; Isn't It Romantic; Alregin; Time After Time; So What; Interview; Blue Train; Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise; Five Years Ago; Love For Sale.
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Belgium 1958: Just By Myself; Moanin'; I Remember Clifford; It's You Or No One; Whisper Not; A Night In Tunisia; NY Theme.
Ella Fitzgerald - Belgium 1957, Sweden 1963: Angel Eyes; Lullaby of Birdland; Love For Sale; Tenderly; April In Paris; Just One Of Those Things; Roll 'Em Pete; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing); No Moon At All; Just One Of Those Things; Runnin' Wild; Georgia On My Mind; Desafinado; Hallelujah, I Love Him So; Mack The Knife.
Dizzy Gillespie - Belgium 1958, Denmark 1970: Blues After Dark; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; Lover Man; Cocktails For Two; Blues Walk; Con Alma; The Brother K; Now Hear My Meanin'; Manfeca; Let Me Outta Here; Things Are Here.
Quincy Jones - Belgium 1960, Switzerland 1960: Birth Of A Band; Moanin'; Lester Leaps In; The Gypsy; Tickle Toe; Everybody's Blues; Big Red; Birth Of A Band; I Remember Clifford; Walkin'; Parisian Thoroughfare; The Midnight Sun Will Never Set; Everybody's Blues; Stockholm Sweetnin'; My Reverie; Ghana; Big Red.
Thelonious Monk - Norway 1966, Denmark 1966: Lulu's Back In Town; Blue Monk; 'Round Midnight; Lulu's Back In Town; Don't Blame Me; Epistrophy.
Buddy Rich - Holland 1978: Ya Gotta Try; Little Train; Best Coast; Grand Concourse; 'Round Midnight; Birdland; Channel One Suite; Big Swing Face.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.