Sarah Vaughan recorded extensively for Mercury/EmArcy during the 1950s and 1960s. Through much of that time, Vaughan's operatic voice was matched against overripe orchestrations or arrangements more suitable to a pop icon than one of the most versatile instruments in history.
Duke Ellington recorded for Brunswick from 1926 to 1931, the period in which his great talent and great orchestra first flowered, whether the band was recording under his own name or such pseudonyms as the Washingtonians or the Jungle Band. The earliest recordings are highlighted by the presence of trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist "Tricky Sam" Nanton, whose brilliant work with plunger mutes for vocal effects did much to define the early sound–which, in turn, rapidly evolved and expanded with the additions of Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, and Cootie Williams. While the band's repertoire included many blues and popular songs, its distinctive identity emerges from early renditions of such trademark pieces as "East St. Louis Toodle-O," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "The Mooche," and "Mood Indigo." By the end of the period covered in this set, Ellington's ambitious later suites–some of them CD-length–are portended in the elegant extended composition "Creole Rhapsody," his clearly superior contribution to the symphonic jazz movement.
The third of four Sarah Vaughan Mercury box sets (this one has six CDs) traces her career during the last two and a half years of the 1950s. There are several very interesting sessions (expanded greatly by the inclusion of many previously unissued performances) on this box including 21 numbers from a gig at Mister Kelly's in Chicago with her trio (led by pianist Jimmy Jones), a meeting with the Count Basie Orchestra that resulted in the album No Count Sarah, and a live set with a septet (which includes cornetist Thad Jones and the tenor of Frank Wess) at the London House in Chicago. In addition, there are quite a few commercial sides with large orchestras (including some sessions arranged by Quincy Jones), so overall this box lets one hear the many sides of Sarah Vaughan; a special highlight is her first recorded version of "Misty." The reissue (and the other three volumes) is a must for Sarah Vaughan's greatest fans although more general listeners may want to acquire one of the less expensive single CDs instead.
Verve Jazz Masters 31 presents an introduction to the recordings of Cannonball Adderley. The enclosed booklet includes biographical material and commentary on the songs selected.
Cannonball Adderley was a happy man in an angry time. His success was largely based on that fact and so were his limitations. Called 'the new Bird" because of his remarkable facility on the alto saxophone, he never plumbed the dark depths of sorrow the way his predecessor did: he was Ella Fitzgerald to Charlie Parker's Billie Holiday. Nor did he ebulllient saxophone is showcased here playing classic songs, in small combos, swinging octets, and backed by string orchestras - from his mid-Fifties output for Mercury and EmArcy. With Paul Chambers, Kenny Clarke, John Coltraine, J.J. Johnson, Wynton Kelly an, of course, Cannonball's brother, Nat.
Being familiar with some of his work (basically the hit songs) I had no idea of the legacy this brilliant man has left behind. To my complete surprise this (ridiculously low priced) box set opened a new musical world before my ears and from the very first listening I have felt madly and hopelessly in love with Serge Gainsbourg's music. The quality of these recordings is matched by the quality of sound. The remastering is top notch and superior to most digital transfers heard today. I only wish this incredible set had been released on vinyl as well.