Various Artists

Complete Commodore Jazz Recordings, Vol. 3

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The third and final Mosaic box set that reissues all of the valuable recordings from Milt Gabler's Commodore label is the smallest of these reissues, a mere 20-LP set. All three of the volumes (which total 66 albums) are wonderful but since they were originally limited-edition releases (just 2500 copies apiece) and have gone out-of-print, they will be difficult to locate and expensive to acquire; buy them anyway if you have any interest in small-group swing and Chicago dixieland. Volume III starts out with some recently discovery alternate takes by Bud Freeman, Chu Berry, Bunk Johnson and Billie Holiday from 1938-44 before concentrating mostly on the 1945-46 period. There are sessions led by Red Norvo, Bill Coleman, Gene Krupa, Stuff Smith, Teddy Wilson and the duo of Don Byas and Slam Stewart (all of those are from a legendary 1945 Town Hall concert) plus dates headed by George Zack, Jonah Jones, Wild Bill Davison, Eddie Edwards, George Brunies and Mel Powell; in addition there are later sets by Bob Wilber, Ralph Sutton, Sidney Bechet, Johnny Wiggs, Willie the Lion Smith, Frank Wess and Peck Kelley. One exhausts superlatives when discussing this remarkable project.