A new CD from the Time-Life Music series is out, featuring some of the greatest jazz recordings ever made. With so many recordings to choose from, narrowing down the list to 18 tunes seems like an impossible task. But classic music collections are a Time-Life specialty, especially when it comes to vintage jazz.
Nat "King" Cole led one of the first jazz trios to consist of piano, guitar and bass. Their rendition of Bobby Troup's "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66," featuring Cole on vocals and piano, Oscar Moore on guitar and Johnny Miller on bass, became a jazz standard. Curious travelers still "get hip to this timely tip" and drive "The Mother Road" that once stretched all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Just a month before the Nat "King" Cole Trio recorded "Route 66," trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra broke new ground with "A Night In Tunisia."
Dizzy Gillespie was only 28 years old when he made his recording debut as a leader on "A Night In Tunisia," featuring vibraphonist Milt Jackson and the late Ray Brown on bass. Dizzy's tune became an anthem of the bebop era and helped introduce Afro-Cuban jazz to American audiences.
No collection of classic jazz would be complete without the "First Lady Of Song," Ella Fitzgerald.
No one could swing like Ella Fitzgerald on Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." She recorded it in 1956 for her album Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Duke Ellington Songbook. Ella also recorded songbooks by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Jerome Kern.
In addition to some memorable jazz singing, Classic Jazz is a must for sax fans.
Featured saxophonists on Classic Jazz include Lester Young, Gene Ammons, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz and the legendary John Coltrane heard playing tenor sax in a 1959 recording of "Giant Steps."
Pianist Herbie Hancock was only 21 when arrived in New York City in 1961, only to see the transition from bebop to jazz fusion. One of his first recordings as a leader was "Cantaloupe Island," with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums and Hancock on piano. It appears on the new Time-Life Music compilation Classic Jazz.