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Mainstream Jazz Compilation Albums

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Last Updated: 04 November 2020

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Bob Shad was one of quiet music men. Unlike those such as Leonard Chess, Sam Phillips and Ahmet Ertegun, he was not the sort of independent label owner on whom legends are built and films are make. He got on with his job, recorded Jazz, blues, soul and rock, discovered great artists such as Big Brother & Holding Company and prise some of the best work out of Max Roach, Clifford Brown, Sarah Vaughan and others. In 1964, he set up Mainstream Records, originally as a Jazz label, to indulge his first musical love and to capitalise on money that could be made selling albums rather than singles. In 1966, after spotting the market for album-base rock, head started to sign and release acid rock LPs on Mainstream, discovering Janis Joplin-front Big Brother & Holding Company and Amboy Dukes, featuring Young Ted Nugent. But by the end of the decade, Shad had become tired of the amount of money needed to break rock acts. When he re-launch Mainstream in early 1970, it was almost exclusively as a Jazz label. At that time, Jazz was in a state of change and economic decline. Clubs that had provided live work for Jazz artists begin to close or be turned into discothAques to cater to a younger audience raised on soul music. Jazz record labels were either going bust, selling out to bigger concerns or recording funky electric Jazz that was beginning to be called fusion. In the early 70s, Mainstream was one of few outfits left recording acoustic Jazz. As such, companyas catalogue offers an otherwise under-represent view of the Jazz world. Ace Records are proud to be able to release a series of compilations that will look at brilliant music release on Mainstream. Psychedelic rock will be released on Big Beat, while BGP will cover the rest, starting here with aA Loud Minoritya, which focuses on deep spiritual Jazz recorded by label in the early part of 70s.

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Sarah Vaughan: Sarah Vaughan (EmArcy)

Sarah Vaughan, Clifford Brown, Herbie Mann, Paul Quinichette, Jimmy Jones, Joe Benjamin and Roy Haynes. Rec. 1954 Vaughan was by-word for vocal worship among her peers and musical associates by late 1940s, but little she recorded before this album consistently shows her true worth to jazz. Nestle in a sympathetic small-group setting, Sassy simply blossoms into an overwhelmingly seductive artist whose complete abandonment to her own idea of line and sound gives the listener a level of ecstatic pleasure delivered only by-well, by Sassy, Ella and Billie, truth be tell. She may later have equaled this in other settings, but here the gauntlet was well and truly thrown down.

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Django Reinhardt: Retrospective 1934-53 (Saga)

This gorgeously packaged three-disc box set collects a range of guitar genius Django Reinhardt's work from pre-and post-war periods. The first disc consists almost exclusively of recordings he made with the original Quintette du Hot Club de France between 1934 and 1940. These are some of Reinhardt's most enduring sides, and include classics like minor Swing, sweet Georgia Brown, and Swing 39, with plenty of chugging rhythmic intensity from drumless ensemble and showers of dazzling leads from violinist Stephane Grappelli. The second disc, which covers '40 through '47, mixes Quintette du Hot Club dates with some of the artist's other sessions-including big-band recordings-on range of standards and originals. The third disc spans '47 through '53, and finds Reinhardt moving away somewhat from his gypsy Jazz and more toward mainstream Swing sound. Thread through the entire set, naturally, is the virtuosity of Reinhardt's playing, speed and grace of his lines, and the poetry of his expression. A booklet packed with photographs accompanies this superbly selected box, making a RETROSPECTIVE definitive overview, and an essential purchase.

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Anthony Braxton: For Alto (Delmark)

Rare set of duets between these two Chicago avant Jazz giants-Record in 1971, when the influence of AACM's time in Paris was being felt strongly in their return to the windy city. Apart from the usual mad array of instruments that you'd expect from these players-like Braxton on clarinet, Alto, piano, and voice; and Jarman on saxes and percussion-some tracks also feature Jarman playing synthesizer, which adds a very strange element to the session! Titles include Together Alone, morning, dawn Dance One, and a few Braxton Compositions with difficult names! 1996-2020, Dusty Groove, Inc.

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Lennie Tristano: Tristano (Atlantic)

A strange and somewhat controversial figure, blind jazz pianist Lennie Tristano did not record a huge amount, instead focussing on teaching for much of his career. In this role he influenced a number of important musicians, most notably saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. A Virtuosic technician, his music received significant press attention in the late 1940s as an alternative to bebop. He advocates a purely improvised approach, with no preconceived licks, and some critics dismiss his complex linear piano playing as coldly intellectual. He encouraged his students to learn and sing solos by Lester Young, Roy Eldridge and Charlie Parker, and they would also write sample solos over standard chord progressions, which could then be performed as compositions themselves. Examples include Konitzs Subconscious-Lee and Tristanos own Ablution, derived from All Things You Are. Although he generally favours improvising on standard chord progressions, Tristano actually created the first ever free group improvisations with 1949s Intuition and Digression, decade before Ornette Colemans ground-breaking quartet appeared on the scene. Tristano and his students generally eschew blues, and he was disapproving of overt emotion in music. This explains the feeling of cool detachment to many recordings associated with Tristano School.

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Stan Getz: Focus (Verve)

Getz, Roy Haynes, chamber string group and Hershey Kay. Rec. 1961 nothing in the history of jazz soloist-plus-strings recordings could prepare the uninitiated listener for what this album delivers. Getzs commission to his favourite arranger / composer, Eddie Sauter, was completely open-end. What Sauter delivered was a suite that stood up as music independently of anything Getz might add melodically, but that left him plenty of room to create the most gorgeous tapestry of sound and emotion, interweaving between all the richness of Sauters ' lean, expressive scores. Focus stands in glorious isolation even within jazz tradition, but is a certifiable classic within a genre that others still cite in awe.

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Duke Ellington : Ellington At Newport (Columbia)

Ellington, Willie Cook, Ray Nance, Clark Terry, Cat Anderson, Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, Jimmy Woode and Sam Woodyard. Rec. 1956 Ellington often acknowledges that the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival offered him a virtual rebirth in terms of his In-person and recording career, but there is little doubt as to why. Apart from on-site near-riot after the conclusion of Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, this is a well-pace record for lounge-chair audience wanting to know what the excitement was all about. The fact that 60 per cent of originals were recorded in the studio in following days due to onstage microphone problems was only confirmed decades later. The original vinyl had just three tracks: this was also the original CD configuration. The later two-CD version combines a much improved sound with a complete Festival appearance, plus studio extras.

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Dave Brubeck: Time Out (Columbia)

Release in 1959-year that Ornette Coleman produced his game-changing free Jazz manifesto, Shape Of Jazz To Come-California pianist Dave Brubeck proved that Jazz didnt have to be wild and way out to be revolutionary and innovative. The Time Out album finds Brubecks classic Quartet experimenting with a range of unorthodox time signatures but still managing to balance sonic exploration with an accessible selection of tunes. The album spawned unlikely hit single on 5 / 4 Time and went on to sell over a million copies. Key song: Take Five

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Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (Columbia)

Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Bennie Maupin, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Harvey Brooks, Lenny White, Jack DeJohnette, Don Alias and Jumma Santos. Rec. 1969 from whatever perspective you choose to view the 1960s-from Cuba Missile Crisis to the rise of the counter culture movement, student riots in Paris in May 1968 to growing anti-Vietnam protests across USA, advent of pills to the rise of rock music-establish values were being openly question, upturned and in general shaken up. So in the decade when leitmotif was change, it is arguable that Bitches Brew was the album that shook the music world up most. After all, combining jazz and rock? Yes, there had been albums before Bitches Brew that do just that, but Miles Davis ' position in jazz world sanction union between two seemingly opposed bedfellows. With Bitches Brew, jazz-rock message was handed down from mount on tablets of stone. From the title track with Davis, Shorter and Maupin emerging from the matrix of mix before being swallowed up by this swirling electrical brew, to Miles running Voodoo Down with trumpeter on heels of Hendrix, sound of jazz was changed forever. Review Miles Davis-Bitches Brew

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Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus (Prestige)

At 88 years old, Sonny Rollins is one of the last surviving greats of jazzs golden epoch. Though for health reasons he no longer plays his beloved Tenor Saxophone, this seminal 1957 album-which gave Rollins his nickname-remind us of his unparalleled brilliance as an improviser. Rollins receives sterling support from pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins and legendary bebop drummer Max Roach, and together the quartet create alchemical synergy that results in pure magic. Rollins reference his familys Caribbean roots in jaunty, self-pen calypso-esque Thomas and contribute two more original songs in the shape of Strode Rode and Blue 7. His brilliance as a balladeer is highlighted on gorgeous reading of the standard You Dont Know What Love Is.

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John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (Impulse!)

Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. Rec. 1964, No matter how many times you approach this album, it is always greater than the sum of whatever parts you compile. Yes, it is perfect, yes, it is ambitious, yes it crosses over far from usual jazz conceptions, yes it is couch a suite of meditations-in-kind that give it formal design way beyond 99 per cent of jazz albums. Yes, Coltrane plays like a man inspired by something more than job immediately to hand, as do the other three musicians involve, and yes, the themes are unremittingly sober. But that only scratches the surface of this album achievement. You ca lay it at door of Coltrane's aspirations, because good intentions often lead to artistic disasters in music as well as every other aesthetic discipline, but it is possible that his own complete commitment to his testimony of spiritual re-birth happily coincided with a day in the studio where he was truly touched to open his soul through medium of his saxophone, for his playing on this record is almost terrifyingly open, intense and soul-shattering, even when he is simply stating theme. This is a very powerful part of album pull, as is the tautness of each selection form, and it must also account for hold it has sustain magically over listeners who otherwise venture rarely into any form of jazz, including progressive rock fans of late 60s and onwards. Within jazz itself, albums ensure that music can no longer be considered social or cultural also-ran, spiritual and humanistic concerns that make up its inspiration demanding that it be treated in the same way as master creations of art-music of any culture. Nothing could be the same again.

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Sources

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