Various Artists

Esquire's All-American Hot Jazz Sessions

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This exciting CD has 20 diverse performances that were originally produced by Leonard Feather for the Victor label during 1946-47. The first eight selections feature various versions of Esquire's All-American Award Winners and have some unique combinations of musicians. "Long Long Journey" was the first record to match together Duke Ellington (who verbally introduces the song) and Louis Armstrong, and on "Snafu" Armstrong takes a surprisingly modern solo that hints at bebop. Trumpeter Charlie Shavers creates a remarkable improvisation on "The One That Got Away," ltoist Johnny Hodges plays beautifully on "Gone with the Wind" and other key players include tenor saxophonist Don Byas, trumpeter Buck Clayton, trombonist J.J. Johnson and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. In addition, there are selections featuring trombonist Jack Teagarden ("Blues After Hours"), the 52nd Street All-Stars (with Shavers, Hawkins and tenorman Allan Eager), the tenor of Lucky Thompson (his rendition of "Just One More Chance" is a classic), trumpeter Neal Hefti (on the humorous and memorable "From Dixieland to Bop"), altoist Benny Carter, singer Mildred Bailey ("I Don't Wanna Miss Mississippi") and solo piano records by Art Tatum and Erroll Garner. The mid-to-late '40s were a particularly rich period for jazz and this highly recommended CD is filled with gems.