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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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The Jazz Hits

Ace CDCHD 1188




1. Herbie Hancock - Watermelon Man
2. Mongo Santamaria - Yeh, Yeh!
3. Mel Tormé - Comin' Home Baby
4. Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd - Desafinado
5. Cal Tjader - Soul Sauce (Guachi Guaro)
6. André Previn - Like Young
7. Jimmy Smith & The Big Band - Walk On The Wide Side (Parts 1 & 2)
8. Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five
9. Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder (Part 1)
10. Moe Koffman Quartette - The Swingin' Shepherd Blues
11. Ramsey Lewis Trio - The "In" Crowd
12. Vince Guaraldi Trio - Cast Your Fate To The Wind
13. Johnny Dankworth - African Waltz
14. Stan Getz with Astrud Gilberto - The Girl From Ipanema
15. Richard "Groove" Holmes - Misty
16. Ray Bryant - Shake A Lady
17, Eddie Harris - Exodus
18. Young Holt Trio - Wack Wack
19. Les McCann - The Shampoo
20. Hank Marr - The Greasy Spoon
21. Johnny Lytle - The Loop
22. Jimmy McGriff - I've Got A Woman (Part 1)
23. Cannonball Adderley - Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
24. Victor Feldman Quartet - A Taste Of Honey
25. David Rockingham Trio - Dawn
26. Ray Barretto Y Su Charanga Moderna - El Watusi
27. Cozy Cole - Topsy II
28. Nelson Riddle - Route 66 Theme

This is a useful compilation, for several reasons. Its generous playing-time of nearly 80 minutes allows the inclusion of 28 jazz tracks which have been hits. This will fill some gaps in many fans' collections and it is just the thing to give to someone who has the mistaken idea that jazz is never popular or tuneful.

Another useful aspect of the collection is that it supplies some hints about what makes a jazz recording appeal to a wide audience. There seem to be two major factors: a simple, easily-remembered tune and a catchy rhythm. Many of the tracks here are basically blues, which means that they have a structure which is easy to follow. This doesn't necessarily mean poor quality, as some tracks here are undoubted classics - like Jimmy Smith's Walk on the Wild Side, with that thrilling mid-tune drum roll into Smith's solo. And Richard "Groove" Holmes' version of Misty is a masterpiece of swinging Hammond organ, upping the tempo of a tune that is usually taken much slower.

These recordings all reached the Hot 100 in Billboard's charts between 1958 and 1966. In April 1961, Billboard was moved to publish a piece about the popularity of jazz tracks when three such singles entered the charts: Dave Brubeck's Take Five, Eddie Harris's Exodus, and Cannonball Adderley's African Waltz - the last represented here by Johnny Dankworth's original version (recorded at Abbey Road with George Martin). The 24-page booklet inserted in the sleeve is full of evocative illustrations and fascinating facts. For instance, Vince Guaraldi's Cast Your Fate to the Wind was originally issued as the B-side of a single. Two managers at a Sacramento radio station liked the track so much that they played it every two hours for a week, and its popularity gradually spread throughout the USA.

My only reservation about this album is that some of the tracks are very short, probably because they were edited to get them onto a single or to ensure radio airplay. This means that, for example, Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man fades out before you might expect. On the other hand, it is good to hear rarities like Mongo Santamaria's original single of Yeh Yeh (complete with manic screams), recorded in 1963, two years before Georgie Fame had a hit with a vocal version. All in all, this is a worthwhile and engrossing compilation

Tony Augarde





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