Various Artists

Masters of Classic Jazz: Swing Greats

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This double CD has the master takes from five radio transcription sessions recorded during 1943-1944. The music is particularly valuable because a recording strike kept many of these musicians largely off records during the era. Heard from are the Eddie Heywood Sextet, a quintet featuring tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and trumpeter Hot Lips Page, a combo with altoist Pete Brown and trumpeter Jonah Jones, the Red Norvo sextet (with clarinetist Aaron Sachs), and the Stuff Smith trio. The music (mostly heated swing) is excellent but the packaging could be better since the programming on this 38-song two-CD set alternates between the five groups rather than sticking to one band at a time. Also, the claim of these performances being "previously unreleased" is untrue since the Jazzology label came out with the music (plus alternate takes and breakdowns) earlier. But small-group swing fans will certainly enjoy these performances, with violinist Stuff Smith often taking honors.

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