Various Artists

Jazz in Paris: Rive Gauche, Rive Droite 1956-1959

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This three-CD box set is the last of four volumes -- each representing a quarter of the city and a chronological period -- that are designated companions to the 100 albums in the Jazz in Paris collection. Vol. 4 winds the collection up in the late '50s with a wonderful assortment of American and European jazzmen who played with and against each other in the various nightspots and in recording studios around the city. There are some real rarities here, including a Jean-Luc Ponty performance form 1964, Donald Byrd's first trip to the city in 1958, a soundtrack performance from Dizzy Gillespie, and some stunning Stephane Grappelli duets, one pairing the violinist with Oscar Peterson and another with Stuff Smith. Also here are Louis Armstrong, a mainstay of Paris at this point in his career, and an early concert appearance by the Quincy Jones Orchestra from 1960. Toots Theilemans is in this set, as is Cat Anderson jamming with Claude Bolling, and Miles Davis and his band are represented by a track from their soundtrack to Louis Malle's Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud. Other not so normal appearances are by Sonny Criss and Rhoda Scott as well as Max Roach and Art Blakey. Of the Europeans, Georges Arvanitas, Alain Gorageur, Eddy Louiss & Yvan Julien, and Jean Bonal are included to offer an exciting portrait of the scene as it was expanding, but also supporting the whole of jazz history -- New York wasn't even doing this at the time. The package is lavishly illustrated with a 60-page booklet featuring tons of rare photographs of the street and culture as well as musicians and clubs. There are concert programs, reproductions of record covers, and excellent liner notes, personal reminiscences, footnotes, etc. -- all of them in both French and English lexicons. The price is very attractive, making each of these four volumes almost irresistible to historical jazz fans.

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