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Midnight Cool - The Classic Jazz Collection by Various Artists

This is a somewhat unusual compilation on a 2 CD set and will be advertised shortly on TV. Thirty three tracks occupy the set and run the gamut from Glen Miller to Dinah Washington. There are no notes to guide the listener but I spent a few hours today listening intently and trying to identify some of this material. This collection is really a mixture of "gold nuggets" and "lead buckshot". Luckily the nuggets outweigh the lead.

The "lead": Frank Sinatra singing That Old Black Magic, Always and As Time Goes By. Glen Miller performing String of Pearls and Serenade In Blue. I feel that this is a late Glen Miller orchestra under someone else's direction. There was certainly no trace of those famous five clarinets! Lena Horne doing Night and Day and Old Devil Moon in latin rhythms. Hold on now! Don't stop reading. There are gold nuggets in this mish mash of music. A number of them really captured my attention. There are three tracks by the Nat Cole Trio that are prior to his days with Capitol records. They include Sweet Lorraine, That Ain't Right and Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You.

My suspicions lead me to his Decca or Excello days or possibly transcription material. Very nice! Several Dinah Washington items are great even though the string sections tend to interfere. Likewise the Sarah Vaughn tracks. One is solo with strings, another is a duet with a male singer who is unidentified but could be Joe Williams. The final Sarah is "Interlude" and you can't miss the fine sound of Dizzy on trumpet. The Count Basie cuts are great. One is piano and rhythm and the other has the sax of Chu Berry but I stand to be corrected. Vintage Bill Basie!

There are a couple by a young Peggy Lee which may be from her Benny Goodman stint. Her "Blues In The Night" is fabulous. Also included are some Duke Ellington pieces from his early years and one features Johnny Hodges. On now to Billie Holiday and these tracks are new to my ears. Fantastic Lester Young solo on one of the three songs.

Ella is also represented with her perennial fine sound. Possibly her own band just after she took over the orchestra of the late Chick Webb. Last but not least are a couple of Louis Armstrong tracks. "Even'tide" is done with a big band BUT the other "2:19 Blues" pairs Satchmo with Sidney Bechet. Neat stuff!

In conclusion, I really missed the total absence of liner notes and thought some of the music is just nostalgia. However, if this set sells at a bargain price, there is some fine material, especially for the beginning collector.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Various Artists
  • CD Title: Midnight Cool - The Classic Jazz Collection
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Record Label: Edel America Records (EAR)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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