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The Jazz Singers: The Smithsonian Collection

By touching on all the usual suspects (Fitzgerald, Holiday, Eckstine, Armstrong) and creating manageable, if nonchronological, group headings, this five-CD set is a fine place for a neophyte to delve into one of our great art forms. The addition of both contemporary and lesser-known names (Cassandra Wilson, Lorez Alexandria, Earl Coleman) and offbeat novelty items to The Jazz Singers: The Smithsonian Collection delightfully widens the scope of this ambitious project, but the paucity of tracks by the pioneering Bing Crosby seriously imperils its overall credibility. A-

The Jazz Singers: The Smithsonian Collection
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