The Complete Blue Note Recordings

Herbie Nichols

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The Complete Blue Note Recordings Review

by Scott Yanow

A reissue of the 48 Herbie Nichols recordings formerly out on the limited-edition five-LP Mosaic box set, this three-CD package from 1997 has the pianist/composer's greatest work. Nichols was largely neglected during his lifetime; only in the late '90s did the highly original musician start receiving some of the recognition he deserved. Although his originals were often quite orchestral in nature, Nichols only had the opportunity to record in a trio format; the five sessions on this box (30 songs plus 18 alternate takes) feature either Al McKibbon or Teddy Kotick on bass and Art Blakey or Max Roach on drums. The music (all originals except George Gershwin's "Mine") is virtually unclassifiable, and although largely straight-ahead, sounds unlike anything produced by Herbie Nichols' contemporaries. Essential music.

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