Chu Berry


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One has to invest in a few discs to track down most of Chu Berry's recordings as a leader. And while some of his best sides are available from Commodore, there are still many cuts from throughout his career that have been hard to come by. Now, Classics has collected a good chunk of the tenor luminary's solo sides on this welcome collection -- in lieu of a badly needed and thorough retrospective that should include both solo material and tracks from Berry's numerous dates with Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, and scores of other bandleaders and vocalists, this remains the best roundup available. Bookended by a 1937 session with his Stompy Stevedores and four 1941 sides featuring Charlie Ventura (including two alternate takes), this disc's main attraction has to be the eight numbers from Berry's respective 1938 and 1941 sessions with Roy Eldridge and Hot Lips Page. A solid collection that's perfect for newcomers. Now all we need is for the Smithsonian's music arm to resurrect its invaluable, multi-label reissue series, so Berry can finally get his due.

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