Various Artists

Blue Note Now As Then

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To conclude their monumental series, the compilers of the 14-disc The Blue Note Years: 1939-1999 chose to dedicate the seventh double-disc volume to Blue Note Now as Then -- in other words, they decided to bring things around full circle by having their current artist roster offer their interpretations of classic songs from the Blue Note catalog. An interesting concept, to be sure, and it's better appreciated as an individual, stand-alone set than it is as part of the complete box set, where it felt a little anti-climatic (especially since nothing from 1968-1974 was included on the "complete" survey of the label's past). True, there's nothing revelatory on the disc, but almost all of the featured artists -- including the Jack Terrasson Trio, John Scofield, Cassandra Wilson, Kurt Elling, Holy Cole, Marcus Printup, Ron Carter & T.S. Monk, Eliane Elias, Kevin Eubanks, New Stars, Reuben Wilson, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Fareed Haque and Lonnie Smith & the Us3 Horns -- contribute lively, entertaining performances that illustrate that the classic Blue Note sound remains fresh after 60 years. Where the other volumes are essential for casual fans desiring an overview of the label's history (and, to a certain extent, jazz history), this is a nice bonus for hardcore fans of the featured musicians and longtime followers of the label.