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FRANK DeVOL/Collection 1945-60: The man that did as much as Vince Guaradli to bring first time exposure to jazz into many of America's living rooms, via his jazzy theme for "My Three Sons", was quite the talented cat that deserves to be remembered with the crème of the crop that is still referenced today from back then. Perhaps perceived as more of a worker bee than Nelson Riddle, Axel Stordahl and others of that time and ilk, certainly his 40s stuff sounds somewhat dated today but you can hear loads of progressive thinking that under mined Mitch Miller and the rest of the authoritarians that ran the ships. He worked with some of the best on some of their best and got frequent opportunities to step out on his own as well. This fatly tracked set is a great history lesson in post war pop that helped lead this country into a great period of prosperity. Great stuff for the nostalgic or the open eared as well.

JONI MITCHELL/Live at the Second Fret 1966: Mystery solved! Why did it seem that Mitchell fell off after "Court & Spark" drifting until "Wild Things Run Fast"? How about she wrote all the great stuff that would seed her first four albums two years before her first record deal? This radio concert from 50 years ago just tosses off the classics like they were just something from her notebook and mixes them with songs that have never been released for a smoking portrait of an artist as a young woman. Bandied about for years on vinyl, you no longer have to be a hipster uber fan to really complete your Mitchell collection. Preserved amazingly well for a concert recorded by college kids 50 years ago at the campus coffee shop, this is one of those incredible finds it's great to be preserved in amber.

NICKI PARROTT/Dear Blossom: The adventurous moves and choices on this disc go a long way to under scoring why I think Parrott is one of the most under appreciated jazzbos working today. Encouraged to sing as well as play by Les Paul during her 10 year run with him, Parrott is simply incapable of phoning it in. With a bunch of Arbors stable mates backing her up, they get her and understand the music, all of which serves to make this a killer date throughout. Forgive me for drooling over this jazz vocal dream date but if you aren't a big music consumer, this is a date that you can buy and be sure you'll play it often enough to get your moneys worth. Jazz vocal fans will recognize this as more than simply a tribute set to Blossom Dearie by an act looking to be different for the sake of it. This is as daddio as a thrush can be. Killer stuff.

GIL EVANS/The Classic Albums 1956-1963: One of the essential figures of modern jazz, Evans lived in a crummy basement apartment in New York City ( where "Birth of the Cool" was birthed as the nontet shoehorned in there to woodshed) accessible only by rear of the building and had no one sit up and take notice of his birth centennial in 2012. Not only that, but two of the eight albums in this collection weren't even Evans albums, there were repacks of the arrangements he did for Miles on classic albums. He looked like he was already 100 when he was 40 and let that be a lesson on what happens to you when you have so much talent and so little respect. Shining here as an arranger and a leader, you can hear echoes of his work still ringing today but these sets are where it all began, after he left Thornhill's band. Sounding fresh and modern, if you think he's just another old jazzbo, turn your ears in this direction and learn otherwise. This is a load of great stuff that set the standard.

MILT JACKSON/Atlantic Albums Collection 1956-1961: The cool school vibe man from MJQ kept a parallel solo career running while the band played on. Showing it wasn't all showing up in tuxedos, he kept company with Ray Charles and John Coltrane, as well as others whose works weren't part of his Atlantic solo years here. Classy when he has to be, soulful and funky when he needs to be, Jackson was an original cool cat and none of the 8 albums here disappoint no matter how he's striking with those mallets. You can actually hear his laser like focus at work as he never hit's a false note in an era when a black man was taught he had to be twice as good as a white man to be considered half as good. It can be hard to transport yourself back to those times when this was recorded, but there's more than music going on in these grooves. A killer collection throughout

GENE AMMONS/Prestige Collection 1960-1962: A tragic example of a real life, self destructive jazzbo that inspired many b movies about cats living the life, we find here that Prestige and Ammons were a good combination. Recording profusely because "Jug" never knew when he was going back into the jug, these eight albums recorded over two years have a great after hours feel that reflect his after hours life without embellishment or glorification. One of the fathers of soul jazz, Ammons had the juice to get players like Sonny Stitt and Hank Jones bring their meaty talents around. Still sounding fresh and alive, this is the real deal throughout from one of the sax‘s best friends.

DON GIBSON/Complete Recordings 1952-1962: A honky tonker that wound up being a pillar of Chet Atkins' countrypolitan movement, Gibson was a great country songwriter who went into a long, slow fade and has no one to champion him against the long shadow of Hank Williams. Casting such a long shadow in the 50's, it allowed him to be a recluse by the late 70s. With the kind of gas in his tank to find him standing toe to toe with Hank Sr and Buck Owens, this look back a this innovator is a great reminder for anyone who remembers when country was country of how great it all was when it was done right. Put down that sippy cup and get a load of what country was before the corn fields became Walmart parking lots.

PHIL OCHS/Live in Montreal 10/22/66: A double discer of a live concert by the Mighty Ochs when the power and the glory of his pen was in full bloom. Recorded 50 years ago, when Neil Young sat in Phil's living room looking up to him, his words and his truths are as stinging now as they were then which shows how the more things change... Just about any Ochs is good Ochs, and records like this that weren't originally meant to be records can be mind blowing looks at what was really going on under the surface. Like with Sinatra, real fans already have other versions of what's on parade here, but the in the moment of the nature of it all makes all the difference. The editors left a lot of the warts here in tact but it means you are there. Killer stuff recorded at a transitional point for Ochs, it's lucky for us that his works will live on.

Volume 40/Number 195
May 15, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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