Various Artists

Pure... Jazz

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Pure... Jazz, a massive four-disc set from Sony in the EU, while not mistitled, is a strange, wildly haphazard selection of jazz tunes recorded between the 1930s through the 1990s by virtually all of the labels the company owns -- from Columbia, Epic, OKeh, etc. While all of the artists are names -- including Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Benny Goodman, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Weather Report, Branford Marsalis, Duke Ellington, and dozens more -- and are represented by wonderful selections, it's their sequencing that is the real head-scratcher here. While the first few selections on disc one may not be so jarring -- Davis' "So What," Armstrong's read of "Mack the Knife," and Sinatra's "The Brooklyn Bridge" -- it gets quite weird on disc three when you travel from Charles Mingus through Rosemary Clooney through Marsalis and George Benson to Mel Tormé! Stranger still is disc four with Ornette Coleman, Gil Evans, Dexter Gordon, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Ray Barretto, and Stanley Turrentine. The price is certainly right, and the sound is terrific, but in terms of assemblage, you'd likely have more luck achieving aesthetically consistent pleasure by putting this set into an old-school five-disc changer and hitting "shuffle."

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