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This review is from: Essential Sides 1929-1939 (Audio CD)
If you like Fletcher Henderson, you're gonna love this! Most of these tracks feature a sound very much like Fletch: upbeat, snappy numbers rendered with authority and panache. There is a startling level of interplay between the players that has the listener finding something new with repeat playings. The first cuts are a revelation. The early Chocolate Dandies (including Benny Carter, Fats Waller, Rex Stewart, J.C. Higgenbothamn, among others) produce tighter, more complex playing than any Fletch records from the same period (1929). And Hawk soars to heights he would not produce for Henderson for several years.
The disks work their way through the next decade, with McKinney's Cotton Pickers, Mound City Blowers, Henry Allen All Stars, Benny Carter's Orchestra, and other small goups headed by Hawkins. The Jack Purvis Band swings harder than most of the more famous swing bands that followed. The latter disks feature tracks from his European stay where he plays with some English, French and Dutch jazz bands which seem to be playing their hearts out in honor of Coleman (and, it seems to me, there's exceptional good cheer in Hawk's playing in response). Throughout the disks, one great solo is followed by another, often better. We watch the development of the Hawk as he lays down the vocabulary that was the foundation for most tenor sax men to follow. Not to mention the flawless, rich tone and exciting raw power that characterized his earlier years. This is music that excites in a way that will startle those who only know Hawkins from his later ballad and standard dominated work.
This must have been a true labor of love for Ted Kendall (acolyte of the famed John R.T. Davies). He did a flat out AMAZING job of remastering from the 78's. Even the 1929 sides sound like they were recorded in the fifties. You can distinguish the individual instruments quite clearly, the horns have that snap that goes missing when Kendall's lessers carelessly apply noise reduction. Yet, except for a couple of the European tracks, there is but a faint hint of hiss, and NO pops or tics.
Despite their being over 100 tunes, collected over a mere 10 year span, there are no out-takes, alternates, or other redundancies. And they are all highly listenable at worst to jaw-dropping at best. Kendall did not just round 'em up and slap 'em down (like some European jazz collections who shall remain nameless, Proper Box), he clearly chose with a golden ear what to include. He produced a set of CD's that are highly listenable all the way through, every time.
If you have the good fortune to own the Charlie Parker box set from JSP, you already know that they adhere to the highest of standards. And I like that each disk is safely esconced in it's own full sized jewel box, with each containing a sheet giving full musical lineups, recording dates, and a succinct but informative little essay relating to the tracks on the individual disk. Speaking of the JSP Parker set, I note that it is no longer available on Amazon. If I were you, I would snag this set now lest it too should disappear.
I've heard it rumored that Ted is working on another Hawkins box set covering the next decade. Hope the sales of this one encourages that.
THIS MUSIC ROCKS MORE THAN ROCK DOES!
If you can afford it, there is now a Mosaic Records boxed set that is a quantum improvement in remastering even over this JSP set. Ted Kendall now is working with Mosaic, so we probably won't see that second JSP Hawkins set.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 16, 2012 1:33:19 PM PDT
For some alternate takes of the Ramblers' sides, you might be interested in Americans In Holland Vol. 2: The Great 1930ies Unissued Studio Recordings.
Posted on Nov 20, 2012 12:26:08 AM PST
Thanks for this review. You've certainly sold me on this set. I'd still like to own a hardcopy disc that includes Bean's epochal "Body and Soul" performance, which seems to be missing on this excellent box; do you recommend an especially good collection which includes that 1939 piece? Another reviewer recommended this:
Body & Soul
but it seems to be out of print and rather expensive. It would be nice to find another collection with minimal overlap with this box that you've reviewed.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 6:48:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 6:51:54 AM PST
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 7:44:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 7:48:12 AM PST
There are quite a few, but I have Body & Soul in it's original RCA edition. Since RCA owns the original masters, and remastered this in 1996, this is the winner. Chronologically, this set picks up nicely where the JSP box leaves off. Kiefte's suggestions are dated prior to 1996, so probably don't sound as good.
I have to confess that my love for the JSP box has been supplanted by the awesome Mosaic boxed set (available only on their web site). Quite expen$ive, but the sound quality is beyond belief.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 8:01:47 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 8:02:06 AM PST
Thanks very much, guys! I appreciate these recommendations. I am way out of the loop....I'd no idea there was a Mosaic box. They are the Cadillac of anything they do.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 8:16:59 AM PST
More like the Lamborghini.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 2:51:44 PM PST
The Body and Soul CD I mentioned is soundwise very good, no complaints there. One shouldn't automatically assume remastering by the original owners to be worth their salt because often they are quite disappointing. Mosaic is indeed a Lambo: looks good from the outside, but ultimately too expensive for what you get. Stick with the JSP set.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 5:27:38 PM PST
I based my recommendation for Body and Soul based on listening to it. While ownership of the original masters does not guarantee a good remastering job, it's almost a prerequisite. Eliminates the flaws inherent in copying from a copy.
Whether or not Mosaic sets are "worth it": I have a dozen of these boxed sets and have often done a careful A/B comparison on good audio equipment of identical tracks released by others. The difference is appreciable in almost every case. The Mosaic sets usually weigh out at about $17/CD, usually better than 70 minutes per. The detailed text and rare photos: no extra charge.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 8:27:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 8:27:57 PM PST
And I belatedly notice your nifty Coleman Hawkins "essential recordings" list at your Amazon profile, JH; thanks for that.
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