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108

Various Artists: Swingin' Jazz for Hipsters Vol. 2

Robert Spencer By

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Again with the hipsters. Same packaging, same kind of track selection, even much the same personnel as Volume One. This time we have Jim Hall with a sprightly version of "Bemsha Swing," Ken Peplowski as "Mr Gentle & Mr. Cool," Charlie Byrd's "Frenesi," Gary Burton with "Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs (Theme From 'Frasier')," Frank Vignola and "Tico Tico," the Heath Brothers with "Dave's Haze," Brother Jack McDuff doing (are you ready?) "The Age of Aquarius," Gerry Mulligan and Scott Hamilton on "Gone," Cal Tjader and Carmen McRae with "Heat Wave," Scott Hamilton again, without Gerry but with strings, on "The Look of Love," Monty Alexander with "Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)," and Mel Tormé with George Shearing on "I'm Hip."

I know what you're thinking: that this lineup is a little stronger than Volume One's. And it is. I don't know what they're thinking over in Concord (and maybe it's just my personal taste) but I'd be more interested in hearing from the Heaths, Gerry Mulligan, Burton, and Shearing than some of the folks on the first disc. Of course, maybe I listen to more jazz than their target audience. Insofar as that's the problem being addressed by these discs, I commend the producers.

Standouts are not unexpected. The Heaths deserve honors for the easy blues shuffle of "Dave's Haze," although I might have picked other tracks from their standout album As We Were Saying. I am still in awe at the mastery of Jimmy Heath, a man who does not seem to get his due.

Brother Jack is not in the same Dimension as the folks who made "Age of Aquarius" a monster hit in the Sixties, but his version roils with a passionate intensity all its own. Gerry and Scott make a terrific pair, with Gerry gruff but lovable and Scott smooth but lovable. Don't miss it, from the disc Soft Lights & Sweet Music.

Well, as the hipsters say, I'm hip to these cats. I hope they sell a lot of records, and that this is one of them – AND that it will lead people back to the original sources.


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