Verve Jazz Masters 57 presents an introduction to the recordings of George Shearing. The enclosed booklet includes biographical material and commentary on the songs selected.
"…I just asked the band what they'd like to play, and they said, 'Oh, let's play some "I'll Remember April", or let's play some "September in the Rain".' So we did , and (the latter) sold nine hundred thousand copies." So London-born George Shearing reminisces on his early US fame and fortune in Brian Priestley's liner note. Shearing had an almost uncanny knack for creating music both pleasing to the public and artistically satisfying - as can be heard in this compilation of his early Fifties MGM sessions, which includes many tracks never issued on CD.
Vol. 16 of the Verve Jazz Masters series features pianist Oscar Peterson, who recorded prolifically for them from his start in the early '50s up to the early '70s. A single CD could never do Peterson justice, but this one, featuring 15 solid tracks, is evenly balanced between trio and guitar-accented small ensembles, with three big-band tracks added in. The hottest numbers are "Woody 'n You," his original (one of only three of his compositions) "Evrev," and "The Honeydripper." The jazz orchestras nearly consume Peterson during "West Coast Blues," "O.P.," and the stringy "Someday My Prince Will Come." No matter; it's the brilliant voice that listeners admire and are awed by that always shines through, and even though his discography for Verve is gigantic, this remains a good place to start, especially for the student or novice to Peterson's genius.
Nat Hentoff prefaced his 1956 down beat review of Verve's first Ella Fitzgerald-Louis Armstrong collaboration with a prediction: "Ella and Louis is one of the very, very few albums to have been issued in this era of the LP flood that is sure to endure for decades." Today, those sublime performances, along with two subsequent Norman Granz-produced Fitzgerald-Armstrong albums, are regarded as milestones of American music. A dozen gems from these works are presented here.
Astrud Gilberto's entry in the nicely appointed Verve Jazz Masters compilation series shows exactly why the Brazilian singer is deserving of such an accolade. In her '60s heyday, Gilberto was often derided by jazz purists for her vibrato-less "desafinado" (deliberately slightly off-pitch) singing style and deadpan, childlike voice. But the diminutive bossa nova star has since been a huge influence on dozens of jazz and pop singers. VERVE JAZZ MASTERS is less of a greatest hits package than it is a smartly balanced retrospective of many of Gilberto's best performances. Her biggest hits, "Call Me" and "Summer Samba," are not included, and her signature tune, "The Girl From Ipanema," is only represented by a live take from a 1964 Carnegie Hall concert. The collection places equal emphasis on Gilberto's bossa nova-style interpretations of jazz standards and on her signature Portuguese-language sambas.
Verve Jazz Masters 37 presents an introduction to the recordings of Oscar Peterson. The enclosed booklet includes biographical material and commentary on the songs selected.
Ever since the beginning of jazz its practitioners have embraced the songs of musical theater as a source for interpretation. But who can explain why show music has such a hold over jazz artists - especially when there are enough original compositions within their own medium to choose for reinterpretation. Perhaps it's because this music has universal appeal, and a song grows with each new recording by a different performer…
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.
Mostly covering Shearing's latter-day work for the Concord Jazz label, this edition of Verve's Compact Jazz series isn't one of their best. And while there are certainly some fine cuts here ("Con Alma," "Cheryl"), fans will inevitably start pining for all those classic '50s and '60s dates the pianist cut for Capitol.
Vol. 18 of the Verve Jazz Masters series features Sarah Vaughan for the most part singing bop and swinging pretty hard. Though not known at all as a Verve artist (only At Mister Kelly's), these tracks were mined from her dates in the '50s and '60s for Mercury/EmArcy and Roulette. Of the 16 selections, there's a good mix of small-group sessions with such notables as trumpeter Clifford Brown and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and big bands led by Quincy Jones or members of the Count Basie Orchestra. Nary a string section is heard until the closer, "Misty." You get pure swing, not the sappy Sassy, during "Cherokee," "Shulie a Bop," "Lullaby of Birdland," "Just One of Those Things" (from the At Mister Kelly's date), and "Sassy's Blues," among others. This is a very good compilation to find and keep.
Not all of the installments in the Verve Jazz Masters series contain material originally issued on Verve. Verve Jazz Masters 3, for example, consists of 14 examples drawn from seven Chick Corea LPs released on the Polydor label during the years 1972-1978. Six of these come from Corea's Return to Forever period. The backbone of this collection (tracks one, seven, ten and fourteen) are selections from the highly acclaimed album Light as a Feather (1972) and there are excerpts from Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973) and No Mystery (1975). The other eight titles are traceable to Corea's theatrically costumed and somewhat heavy-handed production albums The Leprechaun (1975), My Spanish Heart (1976), Friends (1978) and The Mad Hatter (1978)…
Antonio Carlos Jobim's entry in the exhaustive Verve Jazz Masters set of historical reissues is one of the best single-disc Jobim anthologies available. It's not got much in the way of historical range, since it stops in the mid-'60s, just before Jobim left Verve for Reprise and then A&M. However, since Jobim's Verve years were, in the minds of many, his career highpoint, Verve Jazz Masters 13 distills the best of his most artistically and commercially successful period. Nearly all of Jobim's greatest songs are here in their definitive versions, and the whole is sequenced thoughtfully, so that the disc has a logical and delightful flow. This is magnificent stuff, as well as being the birth of bossa nova.