20 JUN 12 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Concord Music Groups's new Very Best Of series will help heat up and cool down your Summer of 2012 with some of the best recordings by some of the most important and influential musicians in jazz history. Released in early June, the first five releases in this series truly exemplify the cream of any jazz crop.
Many modern guitarists, for example, blossomed in the cool and mellow shadow of The Very Best of Wes Montgomery (Riverside), through his tracks like "Groove Yard" and "West Coast Blues" drawn from the prime of his Riverside career. The Very Best of Chet Baker (Riverside) begins precisely where it should, Baker's timeless and breathless whisper through "My Funny Valentine," and continues through pained romantic trumpet-plus-vocal numbers like "Old Devil Moon" and "My Heart Stood Still."
The Very Best of John Coltrane (Prestige) and The Very Best of Sonny Rollins (Prestige) present two saxophone colossuses growing from embryonic into full form. Rollins features his West Indies trip to "St. Thomas" and monumental "Tenor Madness" steeplechase with Coltrane, while 'Trane's set rumbles through adventures in "Bahia" and such signature tunes as "Traneing In," "Freight Trane" and Tadd Dameron's searing ballad "Soultrane."
But nobody ever played a ballad like Miles Davis, and you won't hear two demonstrations much better than "My Funny Valentine" and the hazy, mystic "'Round Midnight" as rendered by Davis' "first great Quintet" (featuring Coltrane) on The Very Best of the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige).