Various Artists

Concord Records 30th Anniversary

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This six-CD box set chronicles the 30-year history of mainstream jazz label Concord. The label began mostly as a outlet for high-quality jazz musicians who were being left behind by the dawn of the fusion and jazz-pop era in the early '70s. The first three discs in the set are a chronological rundown of some of the label's highlights, and include smooth and swinging tunes by the likes of Herb Ellis, Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey, George Shearing, and Ray Brown. The label also released records by younger artists who were firmly in the mainstream tradition, like Scott Hamilton, Chris Potter, John Patitucci, and Jimmy Bruno. The fourth disc spotlights one of the important goals of the label: keeping the big-band tradition alive. Featured are high-energy cuts from big bands fronted by Louie Bellson, Maynard Ferguson, Rob McConnell, and Gene Harris. Disc five is dedicated to the fine roster of vocalists Concord has recorded, a nice mix of legends like Mel Tormé, Rosemary Clooney, and the always amazing Carmen McRae and young talent like Monica Mancini, Karrin Allyson, and Nnenna Freelon. Concord has always been a big supporter of Latin jazz, and they have put out records by some of the biggest performers in that style. Disc six is bursting with Latin sides by Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Ray Barretto, Charlie Byrd, and many more. This box set is a fitting tribute to a label that has done as much as any label to help keep jazz a viable art form, and is a very satisfying listen for fans of lightly and politely swinging jazz.

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