CD review: Al Jarreau, John Coltrane, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Mann

Original Album Series
(Warner Bros/Atlantic)

No, they are not all playing together. That would be a very strange jazz supergroup! What we have here is five more of the excellent series which re-releases, repackages and re-prices some classic albums.

All of them are presented in CD-sized replicas of the original LP covers, five per cardboard sleeve, with the only downside the fact that the liner notes in their reduced state are not quite so reader friendly, depending on the age of the reader’s eyes, of course.

The Coltrane collection brings together his Atlantic albums Giant Steps, Coltrane Jazz, My Favourite Things, Coltrane Plays The Blues and Coltrane’s Sound. The Coleman sleeve encloses The Shape Of Jazz To Come, Change Of The Century, This Is Our Music, Free Jazz and Ornette! So, a lot of the seminal recordings from the modern jazz movement of the early 1960s, and perfect buys if your collection is missing even one or two of them.

The Herbie Mann box ranges from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s, and comprises At The Village Gate, Do The Bossa Nova, Nirvana, Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty and Hold On, I’m Comin’. It’s more of a mixed bag with the live discs, Village Gate and Hold On, showing what the flautist does best, Nirvana being a strange mismatch of Mann with the Bill Evans Trio, and the Muscle Shoals disc reminding us that Herbie’s groove stuff really was the original source of the jazz jam movement of the turn of the century.

As far as I’m concerned, Jobim is a composer of genius, a 20th century Bach or Mozart, and so any recordings of his that are available are cause for celebration. This fiver has The Wonderful World Of…, Love, Strings And Jobim, A Certain Mr Jobim, Urubu and Terra Brasilis. Arrangers featured on these discs included Nelson Riddle and Claus Ogerman, and on Love, Strings… Jobim sings songs by other Brazilians as well.

The Al Jarreau box is most welcome, too, for it reminds us what an excellent and inventive jazz singer Al was before, just like George Benson, he became engulfed by the blandness of smooth jazz as his career took off. Here there are still some unsanded corners to his voice and some risks being taken. We have We Got By, Glow, All Fly Home, This Time and Breakin’ Away.

In each case you are getting five CDs for the price of one new one. And there is the added advantage for those with shelf space issues – these little boxes pack a lot of good music into a very small shape.

Categories: CD review

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