Big Band Renaissance
The sheer scope of this five-CD set — recorded by 58 bands between 1941 and 1991 — makes it a must for serious orchestral jazz fans. While there’s plenty of shouting brass here, the most powerful sides often come from the subtlest leaders, composers, and arrangers: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Gil Evans, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. But traditionalists beware! The set overlooks some obvious choices (Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s fabulous big band) for less influential progressive bands (Herb Pomeroy’s ensemble).