Original Jazz Classics Sampler

Berkeley’s Fantasy Records company owns the largest stockpile of jazz in the world and has been reissuing it for years on its Original Jazz Classics imprint. Among the recent release of six samplers is this collection that presents a mix of famous and unknown artists who recorded for these short-lived 1950s labels.

Founded by Charles Mingus and Max Roach, Debut’s most noted album was Jazz at Massey Hall, with them backing up Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell. “Perdido,” from that 1953 concert, leads off the 16 selections that also include Parker ripping it up at a New York venue. Another “name” is Miles Davis (post-Bird, pre-Trane) relaxing with vibist Teddy Charles on “Nature Boy,” while the unknown singer Ada Moore flies on “The Man I Love.”

The highlight of the Period acquisitions is the 1941 Minton’s after-hours session spotlighting guitarist Charlie Christian peeling off chorus after chorus on the prophetically titled “Swing to Bop.”

The Prestige and Riverside samplers feature Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis (with Bird on tenor sax), Sonny Rollins, Coltrane and Bill Evans, among others. The Fantasy sampler offers a mix that includes Tony Bennett (with Bill Evans), Woody Herman’s band, Dave Brubeck’s Quartet (from his second jazz on campus LP, Jazz at College of the Pacific) and Chet Baker (with Gerry Mulligan) on an atmospheric “My Funny Valentine.”

Contemporary Records documented the L.A. scene of the ‘50s-'60s, and its sampler showcases such local lights as Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, Curtis Counce, Teddy Edwards and Ornette Coleman (on his first date).

After selling off his Verve label, Norman Granz retired for 10 years, then returned in 1973 to start all over again with his Pablo label, whose sampler features many of his favorite artists, among them are Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, Louis Bellson and Benny Carter.