Jazz 100
The Swing Era
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert
Benny Goodman
1938 [Columbia]2CDs


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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 Orchestra
1936-39 [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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Definitive Fletcher Henderson (Ken Burns Jazz)
Fletcher Henderson
1924-40 [Columbia/Legacy]


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Henderson is often credited with providing the blueprint for swing, beginning roughly in 1924 when Louis Armstrong joined his orchestra. Famous for his keen eye for talent - players including Ben Webster, Lester Young, Benny Carter, Art Blakey, Don Redman and Coleman Hawkins all had stints with Henderson's orchestra at some stage.





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Begin the Beguine
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. This is a superb selection of digitally remastered tracks from his second and third bands. Billie Holiday handles the vocals on 'Any Old Time' and drummer Buddy Rich appears on several tracks.





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Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band
Duke Ellington
1939-42 [RCA Bluebird] 3CDs


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Music by the Duke's orchestra during an artistically productive period featuring bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor Ben Webster. At three CDs this may be a bit much for the casual collector and getting hard to find. Snapper Music's 2CD 'With a Touch of Class' is a nice sounding budget 44-track overview containing 23 genuine Blanton-Webster classics.





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Hit That Jive: 1936-1946
The King Cole Trio
1936-46 [Decca/Capitol]


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Before Cole struck gold as a balladeering pop singer he was recognised as one of the finest swing pianists in jazz. The somewhat controversial transition happened while his trio (featuring guitarist Oscar Moore) recorded for Capitol. This sampler of early hits was mostly recorded with Decca, before the trio signed with Capitol in 1943.





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The Thundering Herds 1945-1947
Woody Herman
1945-47 [Columbia]


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A typically energetic collection of tracks from Herman's First Herd, with a couple from the Second Herd thrown in for good measure. The 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.





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Midnight Sun
Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra
1946-47 [Decca]


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Swing's premier vibraphonist shows he knows how to bop. Hampton rose to fame in the mid-30s as a flamboyant member of Benny Goodman's bands. His post-war Decca recordings are generally regarded as his best work as a leader in his own right. Future stars appearing include Charles Mingus, Johnny Griffin and Kenny Dorham.


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