Various Artists

Giants of Jazz: Road Songs

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The open road suggests unlimited possibilities -- escape, freedom, a chance to use space and time to create distance and new arrivals -- and it is also perhaps the perfect metaphor for jazz, where improvisation means casting off the lines and just going for it. This breezy and charming collection of road tunes from Savoy Jazz wisely avoids the obvious (no "Route 66"), and keeps things as bright and positive as a long Sunday drive in the middle of summer. Everything here suggests easy movement, from the shimmering vibraphone of Bobby Hutcherson's "Highway One" to the Monkish angular piano of Donald Brown's "Car Tunes," or the anticipation inherent in Nat Adderley's cornet in "Arriving Soon." This isn't a history of the use of open space in jazz, or even an attempt at a complete compendium of road songs, but it is a well- selected set of tracks that all fit a mood, and one can easily imagine slipping this in the car player and just driving for the joy of it, because every departure (even if it is unplanned and spontaneous) implies an arrival, and in between is the open road, where anything is still possible.

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