Various Artists

Jazz Scene [Verve]

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In 1949, producer Norman Granz released a remarkable album of 78s that consisted of a dozen selections (many of them specially recorded for the occasion) that perfectly summed up the modern jazz scene of the time. The deluxe set consisted of two Duke Ellington features for baritonist Harry Carney with strings, a pair of complex Neal Hefti arrangements, small-group sides by Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and altoist Willie Smith, Machito's "Tanga," major works by arrangers Ralph Burns and George Handy and, the piece de resistance, Coleman Hawkins' pioneering unaccompanied tenor solo "Picasso." Now all of this music has been reissued on a very attractive, double-CD set that also contains five alternate takes plus three previously unknown Billy Strayhorn piano solos, further examples of Lester Young and Willie Smith, an obscure Hawkins session with J.J. Johnson from 1949, a few numbers from a forgotten Flip Phillips session, and three selections by Ralph Burns in 1955, two of which feature explosive trumpet work from Roy Eldridge. The new packaging is magnificent, with many Gjon Mili photographs of the top jazzmen of the era and extensive liner notes. This was one of the top reissues of 1994 and is essential for all serious historical jazz collections.

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