Various Artists

Essential Jazz Masters

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Essential Jazz Masters is whopping 186-track budget-priced collection that features virtually every major artist of the classic jazz era from the 1930s through the early '60s, and plenty of lesser-known ones, too. Along with the Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Louis Jordan, Dollar Brand, Count Basie, Peggy Lee, and John Coltrane are names like Gigi Gryce, Serge Chaloff, Pee Wee Russell, Jackie & Roy, Walter Bishop, Jr., and Bill Coleman. It's a very eclectic compilation, that features no vanguard jazz -- meaning Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and the rest of the avant-garde aren't represented -- but they deserve their own box. The only major omission at sight is the lack of a cut by Sonny Rollins, though he does appear with Thelonious Monk on a tune here.