By the early '90s, the Fantasy label controlled the catalogs of most of America's finest jazz imprints. This had turned out to be a great thing for jazz fans; the Original Jazz Classics series that Fantasy inaugurated in the early '80s returned hundreds of great jazz albums from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s to the marketplace, often with additional material and always at midline pricing. In 2002 Fantasy celebrated the roughly two decades of that reissue program with a series of mid-priced compilations, each one focusing on the catalog of a particular imprint. And no such catalog is richer than that of Prestige, the label that was, at various times, home to Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and many other A-list bebop and post-bop bandleaders. All of these and more are represented on this almost 80-minute program, which includes such classic recordings as Monk's "Work" (with Percy Heath on bass and Art Blakey on drums), the charming "St. Thomas" by Sonny Rollins, a frenetic bebop workout by Jackie McLean called "Outburst," and some fine vocal performances by King Pleasure, Annie Ross, Etta Jones, and Mose Allison (who performs Willie Dixon's "Seventh Son"). It would be hard to imagine a better overview of this fertile period in jazz history.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson