While horn players often get most the glory, jazz pianists include in their ranks some of the music's most important figures: From Fats Waller and Art Tatum to Bud Powell and Bill Evans, the jazz keyboard community has forged some of the most interesting and enjoyable jazz advances since the '20s. Bluebird pays tribute here with a generous selection featuring most of the top names. Amidst some fine ragtime, blues, stride, and boogie woogie, the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Willie "the Lion" Smith, and Meade Lux Lewis all contribute top-notch work. And not to forget some of the innovators and indelible stylists of the period, there are equally fine cuts from Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, Ellington, and Basie. Such swing-to-bop adherents as Mary Lou Williams and Errol Garner are also featured, as are bop innovators and followers like Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, and Lennie Tristano. The tracks certainly don't always represent the cream of each performer's catalog -- a pan-label collection is needed for that -- but the music will still provide a more-than-adequate launching pad for any jazz-piano newcomer.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook