Gilles Peterson

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BBC Radio 1's Gilles Peterson compiles a representative, though by necessity highly personal, sample from Britain's rich and sometimes overlooked 1960s legacy of uncompromising straightahead jazz, which serves as an excellent retrospective for novices and connoisseurs alike. The compilation is carefully selected, with many of the country's finest groups represented. As all of the tracks were previously released, this collection should encourage many listeners to explore some of the recordings from which individual selections were taken, and to acquaint themselves with some outstanding, if sometimes lesser-known, artists. There are many treats to be found, from Tubby Hayes on vibes leading his quintet through a riveting version of his "Down in the Village" (from the album by the same name); to Graham Collier's layered "Lullaby for a Lonely Child," from his Down Another Road with a fine sax solo from Stan Sulzmann; to a tight hard bop rendition of Graham Collier's "Rolli's Tune," by a wonderful septet led by trumpeter Harry Beckett These tracks, and the others collected, represent some of the best non-commercial straightahead jazz of the time, and show that the neglected Brits were producing modern jazz at least on par with what was coming from the United States at the time. Remember, too, that during this period Great Britain was exporting some of the best pop, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones; developing a spectacular cadre of explorers of free improvisation, from Evan Parker to Derek Bailey and John Stevens; and reaffirming ties to New Orleans music through some persistent and authentic-sounding practitioners of trad jazz. Gilles Peterson shows that his country could also create straightahead jazz of the highest caliber.

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