Various Artists

The Concord Jazz Heritage Series Sampler

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Now around long enough to have developed an extensive back catalog, Concord started to mine it with a Jazz Heritage series of reissues in 1998 -- of which this generously packed two-disc sampler provides an excerpt from each album. As such, the double set provides a good, even at times unpredictable overview of the label during the (label founder) Carl Jefferson years, during which the mainstream of jazz from swing to bop, with sidetrips into Latin territory, was carefully nurtured until it became fashionable again to worship tradition. Older artists were given a comfortable home there, and this series clearly tilts in their direction. A few Concord mainstays at one time or another are left out -- where are Dave Brubeck, Howard Alden, Susannah McCorkle, Emily Remler, and Phil Woods? -- but they are probably awaiting further installments. 29 headliners in all are covered; one critic's choice of highlights would include the Great Guitars' swinging multi-pronged attack on "Lover," and Rob McConnell's sophisticated brass voicings in "4 B.C.," Barney Kessel's gently driving "I'm On My Way" with surprising (for Concord) backing on electric piano and electric bass, Cal Tjader's ingratiating live "Doxy," Gene Harris' self-explanatory "Old Funky Gene's," and Jim Hall's experimental electronic environment on "All Across the City" (another anomaly for Concord). Sketchy personnel at best, no dates, but the music-making is an enticing come-on for the series.

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