Putumayo is best known for putting out adventurous world music compilations, but occasionally, the company steps outside of world music, which is what happens with Putumayo Presents: Jazz. As its title indicates, this compilation is jazz-oriented; most of the recordings are bop or cool jazz (although there is some swing as well), and most are from the '50s (with some '60s, '70s, and '80s recordings included). This 2011 release has a lot going for it: excellent performances, attractive art work, fine digital remastering. But there are flaws as well. Putumayo fails to provide exact recording dates; the liner notes and credits give the years in which albums were recorded or released, but exact recording dates (which are the norm with jazz compilations) are missing. And the liner notes reference a Nat King Cole interview from "the late 1960s," which would have been impossible because Cole died in 1965 (sadly, he was only 45). But all things considered, Putumayo Presents: Jazz is enjoyable, and fans of vocal jazz will be glad to know that vocal jazz dominates this 42-minute CD. Only three of the 12 selections are instrumentals: Hampton Hawes' "The Sermon," Zoot Sims' 1975 recording of George Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," and Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans' 1961 performance of "Waltz for Debby." And Putumayo spotlights a variety of vocalists, ranging from Mose Allison on "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and Billie Holiday on "Lover, Come Back to Me" to Blossom Dearie on "They Say It's Spring" and Nina Simone on her 1957 recording of Walter Donaldson's "My Baby Just Cares for Me." Of course, jazz has had its share of artists who were both singers and instrumentalists, and Putumayo also offers vocal recordings by singer/pianist Cole ("Deed I Do"), trumpeter/singer Chet Baker ("There Will Never Be Another You") and the seminal trumpeter/singer Louis Armstrong ("I Was Doing Alright"). Imperfections and all, Putumayo Presents: Jazz is a pleasing example of what the label has to offer outside of the world music realm.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson