Various Artists

Atlantic's Great Moments in Jazz

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Jazz was given a couple of CDs (or three LPs) as part of a brace of releases commemorating Atlantic's 40th anniversary in 1988, whereas only a few years before, without any such grand landmark as a peg, Atlantic's jazz story received a breathtaking 15 LPs of room. As such, Great Moments cannot hope to do more than offer newcomers a peek at a few corners of the Atlantic catalog, from the cool West Coast experiments of the '50s through slices of the emerging avant-garde of the early-'60s, the soul-jazz and jazz-rock explosions of the late '60s and '70s, and a leap from 1979 into the barely coexisting worlds of electric and acoustic jazz of 1987. Those who are checking out jazz for the first time will get plenty of inspiration; a lot of jazz collections have been launched by John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things," Eddie Harris' "Listen Here," Herbie Mann's "Memphis Underground," or the Manhattan Transfer's "Birdland." Or they might be intrigued by Shorty Rogers' laconic tune "Martians Go Home" (whose title Shorty claimed was inspired by some restroom graffiti in a Hollywood club) or Mose Allison's fabled rejoinder to hecklers, "Your Mind Is On Vacation," or Mel Tormé's atypical R&B-styled "Comin' Home Baby" (of which Mel wrote disparagingly in his autobiography). Other leaders represented are Jimmy Giuffre, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Ornette Coleman, Carmen McRae, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, David Newman, Hank Crawford, Yusef Lateef, Les McCann, Freddie Hubbard, Billy Cobham, Jean-Luc Ponty, Passport, Gerald Albright and Ahmad Jamal -- in all, a pretty formidable gallery. The booklet notes unfortunately are printed in such tiny type as to render them useless without a magnifying glass.

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