Various Artists

Boogie, Blues & Bop

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Originally released as part of the 14-disc box set The Blue Note Years: 1939-1999, the double-disc set Boogie, Blues & Bop (1939-1955) is an excellent overview of the first 16 years of Blue Note's history. During this time, the label concentrated on...well, boogie-woogie, bluesy jazz, and bop, all of which were the popular currency at the time and all of which were Blue Note's early specialties. While some may quibble that not every essential side from this era is included on this 36-track set, there's little doubt that it captures the spirit and sound of the time, with a number of classics to spare. Any collection that features Mead "Lux" Lewis, Earl Hines, Sidney Bechet, Ike Quebec, Tiny Grimes, Tadd Dameron, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Wynton Kelly, Milt Jackson, Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Lou Donaldson, Clifford Brown, Gil Melle, Art Blakey, and Herbie Nichols certainly has a representative cross-section of the times. Not only that, in retrospect, it seems absolutely stunning that all these artists on one label, and it's to the compilers credit that that's exactly the impression Boogie, Blues & Bop leaves behind. Collectors will have all these recordings, but they'll still marvel at the scope of the label's achievements, while neophytes will find this to be an essential primer on Blue Note's early years and jazz in the '40s in general.