Various Artists

The Mosaic Sampler

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Among serious jazz fans, Mosaic Records is legendary. Founded in 1982, the label specialized in box sets that contained the complete recorded works of specific eras from major jazz artists. The sets were lovingly annotated and remastered and proved essential for the dedicated fan -- not only of the featured artist, but for jazz historians. Mosaic releases continually received glowing reviews from jazz publications, but since they were specialty releases, they provoked more curiosity than consumption in the casual consumer -- after all, they wouldn't pay over $100 for a complete Andrew Hill box set without having some idea of what was so good about the set. Hence, the Mosaic Sampler. Although its appearance is somewhat belated -- appearing 17 years after the label was founded -- it nevertheless is welcome, since it offers a hint of the stellar work the label has done, along with the variety of their catalog. The sampler covers a tremendous amount of ground -- Jack Teagarden, Illinois Jacquet, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Guiffre, June Christy, Count Basie, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Bud Shank and Andrew Hill are all featured -- but all the music is exquisite, giving some sort of sense of the treasures that lie within a Mosaic set. Of course, it's a little ridiculous to offer a sampler of a label that prides themselves in completeness, but that's quibbling. This is an entertaining album in its own right, plus it offers a glimpse of the Mosaic majesty.

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