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Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology

An overhauled primer on the history of jazz in an expansive six-disc compilation

by Karen Day in Culture on 29 March 2011

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Seven years in the making, Smithsonian Folkways' new edition, Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology represents the new standard, a long-overdue update to Martin Williams' out-of-print compilation The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. While some of the 111 selections on the six-disc set remain the same as the original, Jazz broadens its scope to include Latin jazz and fusion, as well as South African and Vietnamese musicians.

With seasoned producer and musician Richard James Burgess at the helm, the changes not only include new insight into the history of jazz (the original set didn't include anything recorded after 1966), but it also plays to short attention spans and today's penchant for rare tracks. For example, Jazz keeps Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" as it's opener, but switches out the 1916 recording of Joplin performing for a Dick Hyman's 1975 rendition. Burgess and his team also chose to leave out excerpts from longer pieces unless they were released as singles initially. One such case, a 2:49 version of Miles Davis' 14-minute-long "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" is featured just before a Cool Hunting favorite, Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters."

Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology sells online from Amazon and Smithsonian Folkways and comes with a 200-page book of liner notes.

via Time Magazine

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