Various Artists

Big Band Renaissance

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This five-CD set traces the development of the big band in jazz from the end of the swing era up until the 1990s. Fifty-eight different orchestras are heard from, generally in one selection apiece although there are some exceptions (most notably Duke Ellington). The music is divided into four categories (Road Bands, Part-Time Bands, Studio Bands and Avant-Garde Bands) but many groups really fall into overlapping genres. The set's greatest fault is that the recordings (which range from Ted Heath to Sun Ra) have not been programmed in strict chronological order which, more than any other method, would have best shown off the music's evolution. However there are many rarities included on this set, the 88-booklet is quite informative, and fans of modern jazz big bands will find much to savor.

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