Founded in 1947, Atlantic Records has been the home of some of jazz's more important figures (as well as blues). This compilation, originally issued as a two-fer LP, catches some of the excellent performances by the label's stable of jazz pianists over a period of 35 years. The earliest track is from Erroll Garner's first and only Atlantic album, Passport to Fame, a 1950 trio session where Garner applies his captivating style to "The Way You Look Tonight." The penultimate track on the album is from modernist Don Pullen. In between, there are cuts from albums made by some of the top jazz pianists, not only from that period, but whose work has stood the test of time and is still played regularly. It also shows that owners/producers Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun and Herb Abramson were wise and sensible enough to find room for artists representing a wide diversity of styles, from Garner through Dave Brubeck to Pullen and Joe Zawinul. Wide stylistic berth allowances notwithstanding, for most of these artists their stint with the label was short, a stopping off place before landing contracts with a major recording studio such as Columbia. The title is also a bit misleading in the sense the label never had some of the participants under contract. The cuts by Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans were from sessions headed by Art Blakey and Herbie Mann, respectively. But no matter how they got on the album, this collection of jazz piano is unmatched for its breadth and depth.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan