Jazz 100
The Swing Era
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert
Benny Goodman
1938 [Columbia]


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Jazz came of age in 1938 when most of its biggest stars performed at Carnegie Hall. Clarinetist Benny Goodman seized the day - and became a colossus amongst giants. A swag of CDs commemorating the event have been released - including a lot of European cheapies. This one is the real deal and is about as good Swing Era music gets.





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The Best of Early Basie
Count Basie
1936-1939 [Decca]


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Basie's early recordings for Decca is swing at its blistering best. Standout support includes tenor Lester Young, guitarist Freddie Green and trumpeter Harry 'Sweets' Edison. This CD has more than an hour of the very best - including the hits 'Honeysuckle Rose' and 'One O'Clock Jump'. Hard to go past the 2CD Avid collection as value for money.





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The Genius of the Electric Guitar
Charlie Christian
1939-41 [Columbia]


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Christian died of tuberculosis in his mid-20s before ever having much of a chance to establish a successful solo career. The tracks with Benny Goodman's bands between 1939 and 1941 are terrific. Christian was an original who pioneered the electric or "amplified" guitar while occasionally venturing into uncharted bebop territory.





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RCA Bluebird Recordings
Artie Shaw & His Orchestra
1938-41 [RCA Bluebird]


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Shaw was a brilliant clarinetist who never seemed to be completely happy with any of his orchestras, despite frequent commercial success. Any RCA Bluebird collection from his second and third bands (1938-1941) is worth having. During this period his band included Billie Holiday and drummer Buddy Rich, as well as several other jazz luminaries.





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Blanton-Webster Recordings
Duke Ellington
1939-1942 [RCA Bluebird]


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Music by the Duke Ellington's orchestra reached an artistic peak from 1939-1942 when it featured bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor Ben Webster. Like all jazz artists of the day, when World War II came along the party was over. The Amazon searches here will take you to a few collections that cover the period, either exclusively or partially.





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Woody Herman
The Thundering Herds
1945-1947 [Columbia]


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Woody Herman's wildly raucous First Herd was arguably the best big band of its day. Family troubles forced Herman to disband it in 1946, eventually forming the Second Herd in 1947 with Stan Getz on tenor saxophone. The collection shown here was still available at the time of writing and is good sounding sampler of both orchestras.





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Songs for Swingin' Lovers
Frank Sinatra
1956 [Capitol]


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By the mid-50s Sinatra had well-and-truly resurrected his career, this time around consciously making a hard-swinging dance album. Nelson Riddle shows he can arrange the up-tempo stuff just as effectively the string-laden ballads on the previous album. It's not really jazz, but the album certainly showcases Sinatra at his swinging best.





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Ellington at Newport
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
1956 [Columbia]


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The Duke's commercial and artistic revival is often credited to a staggering 27-chorus blues solo by tenor Paul Gonsalves on 'Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue'. The performance quite understandably drove the crowd into a frenzy and made headlines all around the world - making Gonsalves "the star of Newport" for time eternal.


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