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As jazz anthologies go, this one from Putumayo is very good. Documented with full-page black and white photographs of the featured musicians in action and insightful biographical sketches plus art deco display font and lists of all the musicians per track, the physical album itself becomes graphically supportive to the selection of solid tunes of the 1950s. The album is indeed fine and mellow, and I was delighted to fill some song gaps in my rather extensive jazz collection. Since Putumayo has displays in countless boutiques and gift shops, which often play these albums as background, it would be grand that these excellent jazz tracks will recruit new fans. After all, jazz still gets little respect in our present era, and youth have a weak knowledge of history. This album will make an attractive gift to any music lover of any style. It is difficult to select representative vocalists, but Nina Simone, Nat King Cole, Chet Baker, Blossom Dearie, Mose Allison, and, of course, Billie Holiday should do nicely. As for instrumentalists, who can complain about Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Zoot Sims, Hampton Hawses, Cannonball Adderley, and Bill Evans, with Ray Brown and Percy Health on bass and Louis Bellson, Jo Jones, and Connie Kay on drum, among others? Although the tracks are not "greatest hits", they are still a winner for Putumayo and for us.
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Over the years the independent Putumayo record label has released many compilations with the word "Jazz" in it - from Jazz Playground for kids to New Orleans Jazz (one of my favorites). This time it's called just "JAZZ". The album, though "curated" by Putumayo's Dan Storper, has the input of WWOZ-FM (New Orleans) radio host Joel Dinerstein. Unlike previous Putumayo albums, Dinerstein's notes - though only a page in length for each performer - are more detailed and he has matched a unique photo image (many from Getty Images) for each essay. Most of the recordings are from the 1950s - during what was termed the "Golden Age of Jazz" and include less-common tracks by female vocalists Nina Simone, Maxine Sullivan, Blossom Dearie, Anita O'Day (from 1977) and Billie Holiday. The Nat King Cole Trio track, "Deed I Do" is from 1950 - just before Cole headed out as a solo act. Louis Armstrong is teamed with Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson on a track from their Verve duet album. In fact, Peterson appears on two more tracks - backing Holiday on one and Zoot Sims on the others.

And for the first time, that I remember, Putumayo has provided the names of ALL the musicians on each track. Nice touch.

As with some other recent Putumayo releases, there is no charitable organization benefiting from proceeds of this album. But that's no reason not to support this small independent label that is introducing the CD buying public (especially through its listening kiosks in gift shops) to many music genres.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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on September 5, 2011
This is an excellent compilation by Putumayo, as usual. The selection of the songs is outstanding and the quality of the recording perfect. I highly recommend it to all jazz lovers.
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on February 3, 2013
No disappointing numbers here, just fine music. It took me years to appreciate Jazz (grew up on Top 40), but now I can listen to collections such as this all day!
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on March 29, 2016
Not really my listening type of music. My friend thought it was great.
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on April 12, 2015
Great compilation.
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