Various Artists

History of Jazz: From Basin Street to Bebop

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Looking for a 40-track jazz sampler that covers most of the bases from the 1920s through swing to bop and a bit of the cool? Released in 2007, Primo's History of Jazz: From Basin Street to Bebop is recommended both as a more or less chronological learning tool and a handy assortment of high quality classics for those who already know and love the music. Extending over a timeline from 1921 to 1956, the selection includes classic New Orleans-based jazz from King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Bix Beiderbecke; a healthy slug of big-band swing from Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington to Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton, and a swing-to-bop roster of such archetypal improvisers as Art Tatum, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young. Bop innovators Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Sonny Stitt, Bud Powell. and Thelonious Monk are followed by early modern masters of mainstream and cool jazz: Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Dave Brubeck, and the MJQ. Overall, this is a superb sampler of well chosen jazz works. Giving Art Pepper, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, and Miles Davis the last word rounds it off beautifully. Gaps? There are always gaps. Nobody has ever put together an historic jazz compilation without omitting something truly essential, and this one is no exception. The almost complete absence of Harlem stride piano is a bit of a puzzler, although Ellington was certainly a graduate of that school, and Tatum was fundamentally a disciple of Fats Waller and James P. Johnson, both of whom really should have been included in this otherwise well put together anthology covering 35 years in the development of that entertaining and endlessly fascinating music called jazz.

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