Jazz 100
Post-War Big Bands
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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The Complete Atomic Basie
Count Basie Orchestra
1957 [Roulette]


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This Cold War classic sports the memorable atom bomb cover, leaving little doubt as to what one can expect to find when delving within. Basie's legendary swing piano is in fine form, while the standouts in the support crew include tenor Lockjaw Davis and guitarist Freddie Green. Undoubtedly the best later-period Basie available on CD.





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At Newport
Dizzy Gillespie
1957 [Verve]


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The best work from Gillespie’s time at Verve saw his second great big band reel off this astonishing set. The band was saturated with topnotch players including Lee Morgan on trumpet, tenors Billy Mitchell & Benny Golson, and pianist Wynton Kelly. Yet another high-water mark for Gillespie in a career absolutely choc-full of them.





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Legrand Jazz
Michel Legrand
1958 [Philips]


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Take 31 of America's top musicians (Davis, Coltrane, Webster, Byrd, etc.) split into three groups, mix in a famous French composer who has a love for jazz and you get this magnificent triumph of pure perfection. Legrand was mainly known for his classical compositions and film scores, but he was also a fine jazz pianist in his own right.





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Plus Eleven
Art Pepper
1959 [Contemporary]


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The coolest alto-sax man on the West Coast grooves with 11 cats who know how to get it done. Arranger Marty Paich makes sure nobody gets left out on any of the dozen tracks here, but this is rightfully Pepper's show. Often hamstrung by his drug use and stretches in prison, Pepper nevertheless is considered one of the all-time greats.





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The Far East Suite
Duke Ellington
1966 [Bluebird]


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An official 1963 goodwill tour spanning the Asian sub-continent and the Middle East inspired this outstanding set from Ellington's later years. Johnny Hodges' legendary alto solo on 'Isfahan' is one of the most memorable moments in jazz - and tenor Paul Gonsalves' contribution to 'Mount Harissa' isn't too far behind. One of the Duke's best.





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Electric Bath
The Don Ellis Orchestra
1967 [Columbia]


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Jazz finally caught up to the Summer of Love with this delightfully irreverent album from trumpeter Don Ellis. His progressive big band hums with everything that purists who were taking jazz far too seriously seemed to have forgotten. 'Indian Lady' is a hoedown in 5/4 - replete with rib-tickling bogus endings. Loads of far-out fun.





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The Jazz Composer's Orchestra
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra
1968 [JCOA]


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A who's who of the New York avant-garde got together for this independent release in the late-60s. As one can probably understand, the big record companies were never all that keen on avant-garde jazz. Austrian composer and trumpeter Michael Mantler and his then-wife Carla Bley provided the catalyst for the influential breakaway.





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Lanquidity
Sun Ra
1978 [Philly Jazz]


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The extra-terrestrial icon of experimental big band jazz gets into a sort of funkified fusion groove on this album that has become a favourite with his somewhat cult-ish fan base. Different from earlier Arkestra classics 'Jazz in Silhouette' (1959) and 'Atlantis' (1969), get all three for a good overview of this unusual jazz talent.


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