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The Stars of Jazz Vol. 1 by Various Artists

Most compilation albums are like flotsam, disconnected pieces floating along without any musical continuity or theme, Most are shipwrecks.

Arkadia's "The Stars of Jazz" is different; it certainly offers many attractive musicians with performances scattered through the latter part of the 1990s. Except one but we'll get to that later. The Arkadia disc works well because the pieces are, for the most part, quiet misty ballads. Like a seacoast shrouded by summer fog. The disparate styles and performances work well together. The pieces nicely segue from one to another. The album sounds complete.

No doubt a reason for this compilation is to introduce newcomers to the performers as well as to the Arkadia catalogue. This album serves a good introduction to more fully explore the works of Bill Frisell, Joanne Brackeen, Benny Golson, Lee Konitz and the others.

Gary Peacock and Bill Frisell duet on a hauntingly gorgeous 'Good Morning, Heartache.' Randy Weston and TK Blue put their own unique and memorable blues-noir signature on the classic 'A Night in Tunisia.' Joanne Brackeen recalls a stride past on 'If I Were A Bell.' It's shameful that Brackeen isn't better recognized given her formidable skills. Lee Konitz, Bob Brookmeyer and Randy Brecker collide on the fog-clearing 'Bernie's Tune.'

As mentioned, all the pieces save one were recorded in the 1990s. The exception is Django Reinhardt's great classic 'Nuages' recorded about a half century before the rest. Does it matter? Not really. Arkadia believes that his legacy still has relevance. Not only that, but Reinhardt's short piece outshines all the rest.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Various Artists
  • CD Title: The Stars of Jazz Vol. 1
  • Genre: Cool Jazz
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Arkadia Jazz
  • Musicians: Billy Taylor (piano), Branford Marsalis (tenor saxophone), Benny Golson (tenor saxophone), David Liebman (soprano Saxophone), Pat Matheny (guitar), Randy Weston (piano), TK Blue (alto saxophone), Harold Land (tenor saxophone), Bill Henderson (piano), Gary Peacock (bass), Bill Frisell (guitar), Tom Harrell (trumpet), Steve Kuhn (piano), George Mraz (bass), Lee Konitz (alto saxophone), Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone), Dave Holland (bass), Paul Motian (drums), Alan Pasqua (Piano), Django Reinhardt (guitar)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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