Various Artists

Village Vanguard Live Sessions, Vol. 1-3 [Box Set]

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Back in the late 1960s, Solid State put out four LPs in their series Jazz for a Sunday Afternoon. The five titles with Dizzy Gillespie have been more recently reissued on a two-CD Blue Note set titled Live at the Village Vanguard. Laserlight improves upon the packaging by including two additional titles (from Vol. 3) on their first two CDs; unfortunately, the two lengthy songs ("Satin Doll" and "Straight No Chaser") from a Harry "Sweets" Edison date that comprised Vol. 4 remain out of print. The first disc of this three-CD set has a very interesting, if sometimes erratic date matching Gillespie with violinist Ray Nance (sometimes replaced by trombonist Garnett Brown), baritonist Pepper Adams, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Richard Davis, and either Mel Lewis or Elvin Jones on drums. Nance's violin playing is adventurous and eccentric, and there are some loose moments, but Dizzy holds the music together and Pepper Adams is in top form. The second disc has two more songs from Gillespie, Adams, Brown, Corea, Davis, and Lewis, as well as a couple of extended pieces from the same sextet but with Marvin Stamm in Dizzy's spot and tenor saxophonist Joe Farrell (who supplied an original blues) for Adams. In general, the performances are of particular interest for showing how the innovations of the avant-garde were starting to influence what would otherwise have been a typical bebop jam session. The third disc features the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, also live from the Village Vanguard. Although the back cover states that those performances are from November 15-17, 1970, they are actually from April 28, 1967. All of the music (plus four additional cuts) was last out on Mosaic's box set The Complete Solid State Recordings of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, but those listeners not owning that limited-edition five-disc collection should be alerted to this music. The band was at the height of its powers and sounds absolutely jubilant on "Don't Git Sassy" and "Little Pixie." Sporting an all-star personnel and interpreting colorful arrangements by Thad Jones, this was a classic outfit. Overall, this reissue is recommended to listeners not already owning this music.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
4 5:00
blue highlight denotes track pick