VOGUE box set

VARIOUS ARTISTS                                                                                                                         Jazz on Disques Vogue                                                                                                                   Sony Music/Disques Vogue/Legacy 88725443772

This box is just what it says it is:

LEGACY ressuscite les trésors du jazz enregistrés en 33t (25 et 30 cm) sur le prestigieux label VOGUE.

  • – 35 chefs-d’oeuvre du jazz en 20 CD. Reproduction des pochettes originals en vinyl replica.
  • – Inclus titres et prises alternatives rares.
  • – Livret 40 pages avec texte de présentation et discographie.

The perfect collection/La Discotheque ideale.”

This from the sticker on the shrink-wrap! For those of you who are French-impaired, it’s twenty CD repro-packaged discs of thirty-five jazz LPs recorded (mainly) in France. The original issues were usually on Vogue or Swing 10” LPs or 7” EPs, so multiple issues by one artist are combined on a single disc (e.g. – Django, Bechet, Martial Solal, Hampton, a.o.). The material was recorded between 1947 and 1957. There are a very few CDs that are merely a single LP’s worth, but there was no logical bundling possibility (e.g. – Konitz, Monk, Pettiford, a.o.) and there are usually alternative takes! And it’s all done legally with the approval and support of Sony/FR!! Mon dieu!!

The booklet contains an essay in French and English by one Anne Legrand (any relation to Michel??) to bring you up to speed regarding the label’s history regarding jazz. Original album covers (back and front) are reproduced on each cardboard packet that has an individual CD – the notes that might have been there are on the back in French and very tiny, too much so for these aging eyes to tackle! The album fronts are also shown in the booklet (not the notes) along with appropriate discographical information for each session. It doesn’t get much better than this, folks!

OK, the music thereon. There are way too many sessions from both Swing and Vogue to list all the performers and performances in detail, so I’ll just go with the leaders in numerical order [all done in Paris unless indicated] as an endnote and let you folks take it from there.[i] There, now you as typical IAJRC members can all consult your various references for further personnel enlightenment!

Since there is just too much music to comment upon track-by-track, I’ll make mention of some of my reactions to specific artists. Using the famous down beat star system, most are between 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 stars, with an occasional five. First, one cannot have too much Clifford Brown! Or Dizzy’s big band!! Hearing Django mainly on electric is ear-opening – I finally hear the connection with B.B. King’s playing that he mentioned to me back in ‘64 much better, now (both artists being lacking in different ways in chording ability) – and he is superb. This is lovely and lively post-Grappelli quintet music. Mary Lou is relatively rare to find these days and is as good as can be. Bechet is on soprano with local musicians: I find his sound to be harsh to these ears (superior playing, mind) and hard to take in large doses – would that there had been more of his clarinet in those days. Martial Solal’s trio work I had never heard before – full piano sounds of great character! Konitz is as expected and well worth a listen… I can hear the Paul Desmond connection here (not loud, but clear!). Bobby Jaspar’s nicely arranged groups are reminiscent of Konitz, Mulligan, Hamilton et al of the so-called West Coast “cool” sound – nice arrangements as well as solos.

What can I say about Mulligan, or Monk that hasn’t been said already (best “Round Midnight” I’ve heard him do): both are five star efforts. Well worth the attention in spite of their disc’s short time. Jimmy Rainey is another worthy who doesn’t get name-checked much these days; Sonny Clark and Red Mitchell hold it all together nicely in turn for a really solid disc. Henri Reynaud’s All Stars are just that; J.J., Bags, Al Cohn, Percy Heath, Charlie Smith, plus Reynaud on piano jamming on standards. It’s great stuff except for the horrible vocal by Milt Jackson on “The More I See You” that should have been left on the cutting room floor years ago. Henri Reynaud must have been in NYC in March of 1954 what with being on his and Pettiford’s sessions in that city with NY musicians! Can never get too much Pettiford, and Reynaud’s arrangements are quite good.

The last four are interesting – the André Hodier was the surprise packet of this box and definitely a five star effort – interesting arrangements here. He writes music as well as he writes about music! Roy Haynes and his group are expectedly superb (again good arranging), while the Lalo Schifrin Quartet come across like a Catskill’s hotel lounge act – average Latin “clavé lite” stuff. Barney Wilen brings the set to a solid close, playing latter-day standards (he likes Monk a lot and seems to have truly grasped him – “Misterioso” is still my favorite of his tunes!) with his quartet.

Whoever at French Sony came up with the idea of doing this box (Daniel Baumgarten?) hit on a lovely way to make a lot of varied material available to folks like ourselves again. Would that there were people hereabouts (US) at the majors with such sensitivity and smarts – it’s not another “out-of-copyright” compendium from Spain, but totally legit. The box is representative of the label(s) in question, for sure, and there are really no out-and-out embarrassing clangers (save Bags “vocal”!) to annoy us sensitive listeners. Highly recommended on many levels and while not everything is “important”, it’s all well worth a listen. Well done, Sony, (not something I thought I’d ever write!) on a great reissue package done with both completeness, taste, and intelligence. And the price is right.

[i] 1.) Django Reinhardt & Quintet of HCF – 3×10” LPs; 2.) Dizzy Gillespie big band/James Moody quartet/Max Roach quintet – 2×10” LPs w. three additional titles [James Moody’s “Just Moody” recorded in Lausanne, SU]; 3.) Roy Eldridge & His Little Jazz – 2×10” LPs; 4.) Sidney Bechet groups – 3×10” LPs; 5.) Mary Lou Williams quartet/quintet – 2×10” LPs w. six alternates [London]; 6.) Martial Solal trio – 3×10” LPs; 7.) Lee Konitz quintet/quartet – 1×10” LP, w. four alternates; 8.) Lionel Hampton & Paris All-Stars – 3 10” LPs; 9.) Clifford Brown octet/sextet/quartet – 2×10” LPs; 10.) Bobby Jaspar’s New Jazz – 2 10” LPs; 11.) Jimmy Rainey quartet – 1 10” LP w. four alternates; 12.) Henri Renaud All Stars – 2×10” LPs w. one alternate [NYC]; 13.) Oscar Pettiford Sextet – 1×10” LP, w. two alternates [NYC]; 14.) René Thomas quintet/Henri Renaud “Sextius” – 1×10”LP/1 7” EP w. two additional titles; 15.) Gerry Mulligan Quartet – 1×12” LP; 16.) Thelonious Monk(solo) – 1×10” LP, w. one additional title; 17.) Roy Haynes sextet/Jimmy Jones trio – 2×10” LPs; 18.) André Hodier groups – 2×10” LPs; 19.) Lalo Schifren quartet – 1×10” LP; 20.) Barney Wilen quartet – 1×12” LPs w. four alternates, two extra Monk tunes.

PETER B. LOWRY

Pub: IAJRC Journal: Vol. 47, No.2 – June 2014 (pp. 70/71)

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