If the Clef/Verve era was the first act of impressario Norman Granz's life in jazz, then his Pablo label thoroughly discredits the notion that there are no second acts in American lives. Granz's preferences were conservative by the usual jazz standards, but his taste was impeccable and unwavering, and he liked to keep his tape machines running and running. This OJC sampler gathers together 15 tracks from Pablo, where Granz made sure that his favorite veteran performers were recorded frequently and exhaustively in their last years -- and to hell with what the accountants thought about it. Most of his favorites are here -- Ella Fitzgerald (with Nelson Riddle), Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie (with Machito), Joe Pass, Sarah Vaughan, Milt Jackson, Zoot Sims, Louie Bellson (in a Latin mood), Harry "Sweets" Edison, Benny Carter, Buddy DeFranco -- a roll call of American originals of whom only a bare handful are still with us. There are also a couple of trips to the pre-Pablo tape vaults -- Lester Young in a live "A Foggy Day" from 1956, and a sampling (the ballad "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye") of the voluminous archive of live European John Coltrane tapes that weren't revealed in extensive detail until 2001 on Live Trane. From swing to bop, with an occasional excursion south of the border, these tracks -- recorded mostly in the close, tight manner that Granz liked -- offer a pretty accurate impression of the Pablo sound world, where the old verities reigned supreme even in the latter fourth of the 20th century.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell