Various Artists

Complementary Tracks [Classics Records]

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From the alternative-rock fanatic who will gladly blow $500 on a bunch of Nirvana bootlegs at a CD swap meet to the jazzhead who would like to own everything that Chet Baker ever recorded, collectors can be an obsessive bunch. The casual listener might have a hard time understanding that obsession and wonder why collectors insist on hearing 50 different live performances of Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box," or why they will go out of their way to acquire a Baker recording that the trumpeter himself would have considered less than essential. But for collectors, their addiction is endlessly fascinating. Serious jazz collectors are the target audience of Classics, a small French label that has, since 1989, been reissuing artists' recordings in chronological order. Classics' forte is pre-1950 master recordings from the 78 era -- the company usually doesn't get into alternate takes (although some completists wish that it did), nor does it concern itself with recordings from the LP era. In 1999, Classics celebrated its tenth anniversary with this three-CD set, which isn't a sampler but rather a collection of rarities and odds and ends that, for various reasons, didn't appear on previous Classics collections. Spanning 1924-1949, Classics: Complementary Tracks contains material by some well-known jazzmen (including Don Redman, Slim Gaillard, and Chick Webb) along with little known recordings by such obscure improvisers as stride pianist Garnet Clark, bandleader Alphonso Trent, clarinetist Omer Simeon, and female swing vocalist Jerry Kruger. Those with a taste for the esoteric will appreciate hearing singer Midge Williams' ultra-rare Japanese translations of "St. Louis Blues," "Dinah," and "Lazy Bones," all recorded with Japanese musicians in Tokyo in 1934. Meanwhile, disc three focuses on mostly well-known artists and sets out to correct various things that Classics felt needed correcting. For example, the spoken introductions to several Pete Johnson sides from 1946 are re-added, and the full versions of eight Bunny Berigan performances from 1936 are provided. Generally decent and occasionally excellent, Classics: Complementary Tracks isn't recommended to the casual jazz fan but is interesting and enjoyable if you're a seasoned jazz collector.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:56
2 2:43
3 2:41
4 2:46
5 2:56
6 2:57
7 2:53
8 2:40
9
2:44
10 2:48
11 2:28
12 3:03
13 3:52
14 4:55
15
3:16
16
3:04
17 2:31
18 2:42
19 3:10
20 3:13
21 3:14
22 2:51
23 2:55
24
3:19
25
3:22

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:00
2 3:29
3 3:30
4 3:25
5 3:02
6 2:55
7 2:48
8 3:05
9
2:54
10
2:45
11 2:54
12
3:03
13 2:45
14 2:50
15 2:42
16 3:10
17 2:51
18 2:37
19 2:49
20
2:47
21 3:02
22 2:33
23 2:43
24 3:08
25 3:08
blue highlight denotes track pick