Various Artists

Ultimate Jazz [Polygram]

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Essentially this is a sampler of a sampler of a sampler -- a single-CD containing a selection from ten of Verve's Ultimate collections which survey the Verve archives, itself a selective documentation of the history of jazz. The gimmick is to have certain celebrity artists speak about and select tracks from the catalogs of PolyGram's revered personalities, which works about as well as have other single-disc surveys assembled by record company people. But this overview gives only the barest taste of the project, limiting the commentary to only a couple of sentences and providing no recording dates and minimal personnel listings. In any case, the artists represented are Sarah Vaughan, Wes Montgomery (with Jimmy Smith), Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dinah Washington, Lester Young (with Nat Cole and Buddy Rich), Nina Simone, Bud Powell, Billie Holiday and Clifford Brown -- usually with first-class material. As an introduction to jazz, obviously this is not very filling, especially when clocking in at a paltry 44 minutes, but you'll enjoy the music.

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