Various Artists

Masters of Jazz: The Sampler

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Founded in the early '50s in Denmark by Karl Emil Knudsen, Storyville Records developed into Europe's prestige jazz and blues label. Storyville earned a reputation as a record company with integrity, one that treated musicians fairly, particularly in the financial arena, and Knudsen was able to license a great deal of truly vintage jazz and blues material because of it, which has given Storyville's back catalog the kind of depth and quality that few other labels can match. This fine sampler doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of that catalog, and shouldn't be taken as anything more than an introduction to it, but it still makes for a wonderful little anthology on its own terms. Among the many classics here are versions of Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train," Ben Webster's signature "Cotton Tail," Art Tatum's absolutely stunning "Tiger Rag," Louis Armstrong's brilliantly sung and nuanced "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," and a wonderful take on "Caravan" by Stuff Smith. Consider this a gateway disc to the wonders of Storyville Records. You'll want more. Guaranteed.

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