Various Artists

Top Jazz Audio Oggi

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Label owners are always tempted to package alternate takes into anthologies, but the results are all too often rather uneven, although this compilation is generally of high quality. Some high points are immediately obvious: Phil Woods' emotional ballad medley of "My Old Flame"/"I Should Care"/"Embraceable You" with a rhythm section anchored by the always dependable pianist Franco D'Andrea, Lee Konitz' brisk trio rendition of "Estate" with two superb guitarists, and Chet Baker's fragile but powerful interpretation of "Come Rain or Come Shine" with the brilliant pianist Enrico Pieranunzi. But there are some hidden gems as well: two bossa novas by guitarist Irio De Paula (who may get wider recognition since the 2001 release of Encontro (on Jobim), his duets with Phil Woods) and a memorable "Body and Soul" by up and coming alto saxophonist Virginia Mayhew. But there are some oddities: the Italian gospel group the Deep River Choir singing a rather uninspired "Rock My Soul," a version of "Triste" where Konitz is somewhat overwhelmed at times by Peggy Stern's bland synthesizer, and the fractured English of singer Ada Montellanico in a rather limp performance of "Save Your Love for Me." Ideally, a label such as Philology would make an anthology such as this available at a budget price, so someone who is only interested in two or three tracks will take the plunge to buy it and then discover several more artists previously unknown to him or her. But at full price, many jazz listeners may be a bit hesitant to take a chance, even though there's enough great music to justify adding this sampler to one's collection.

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