The Crystal Gazer is a very appropriate title for this overview of Claude Thornhill's recorded works from the years 1946-1956, endowed with Thornhill's sparkle-eyed, grinning visage and released on the Sounds of Yester Year label in 2005. It is appropriate because for all his involvement with the bop and cool schools of modern jazz, Thornhill was a master of mainstream mood music and poetic reverie who specialized in delicate reflective studies like "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and his gentle theme song and magnum opus "Snowfall," both of which are nestled into this collection along with what at the time were less conventional numbers like "720 in the Book," "Mambo Nothing," and Gerry Mulligan's "Five Brothers." Arrangements are credited to Thornhill, Mulligan, and Bill Borden, with vocals by Gene Williams, Fran Warren, Paula Martin, and a singing group billed as the Snowflakes. Because this collection traces Thornhill's progress well into the '50s, it includes later material than is generally available on collections of his music that have appeared on the digital format since the early '90s.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf