Miles once said, "All my inspiration today comes from Ahmad Jamal." These recordings are the reason why. The mid fifties was a fertile time for jazz; fresh, original ensembles were taking shape all over the country. The Modern Jazz Quartet, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, The Jazz Messengers and the Ahmad Jamal Trio immediately come to mind. Among musicians, each group had its imitators and its creative disciples who took its innovations one step further.
On the third of five volumes (the first four are double-CD box sets) that reissue all of her recordings, the great Bessie Smith is greatly assisted on some of the 38 selections by a few of her favorite sidemen: cornetist Joe Smith, trombonist Charlie Green, and clarinetist Buster Bailey. But the most important of her occasional musicians was pianist James P. Johnson, who makes his first appearance in 1927 and can be heard on four duets with Bessie, including the monumental "Backwater Blues." Other highlights of this highly recommended set (all five volumes are essential) include "After You've Gone," "Muddy Water," "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," "Trombone Cholly," "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair," and "Mean Old Bed Bug Blues." The power and intensity of Bessie Smith's recordings should be considered required listening; even 80 years later they still communicate.
One of country music s most eclectic heroes, Marty Robbins celebrated an extraordinary career as one of the genre s leading crossover artists. Spending more than 30 years in the music business, Robbins routinely refused to conform to contemporary trends, branching out into pop, rockabilly, Hawaiian, calypso and gospel music, all underlined by his trademark Southern twang. In addition to being a skilled player and performer, Robbins was also a magnificent songwriter, penning many of his best-known hits. He also undertook numerous ventures outside of music during his lifetime, appearing in films and even occasionally participating in NASCAR races. However, it is his music for which he is most fondly remembered, and Robbins retains his reputation as one of the finest ever country musicians and performers. This collection, presented across four discs and running in excess of five hours, collates the entirety of Marty Robbins output between 1952 and 1960, and in so doing, provides not only the perfect introduction to this country giant, but acts too as a welcome reminder for those already well-versed in Marty Robbins incredible work.
Pure and simple genius from trumpeter Charlie Shavers – a player with a sweet tone and a fluid groove – stepping out here with great accompaniment from pianist Ray Bryant! The CD brings together work from the albums Charlie Digs Paree and Charlie Digs Dixie – both originally recorded for MGM Records in the late 50s, and done in a clean, uncluttered style that really brought a strong focus to Shaver's solos, but also gave some excellent rhythmic support from Bryant – working here at the height of his early powers, in a mode that's clearly relaxed enough to get with the spirit of each different session.