The Jazz Scene
Verve 314 521661-2 (two CDs) .
Sometime in the mid-1940s the jazz producer and impresario Norman Granz got the idea of preparing a lavish limited-edition set of twelve-inch 78s showcasing the best jazz musicians of the time. It came out it in 1949, its twelve sides by, among others, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, and Bud Powell and with cover art by David Stone Martin and photographs by Gjon Mili. It soon went out of print, until now when the whole package has re-emerged faithfully reproduced down to the loose-leaf binding (but reduced to CD size). The music, of which the very best is Hawkins’s far-ranging solo fantasy “Picasso,” takes up less than one CD; Verve has added enough material, outtakes, and other cuts Granz recorded by the same artists to fill out that disk and a second one, offering a fuller and more compelling sampling of late forties jazz than the original did. The music alone makes the album worth having, but so do the more than two dozen gorgeous Mili photographs, and so does the historically accurate presentation.