Classic Black & White Jazz Sessions • 11 CD Boxset

Mosaic Records’ new collection of jazz sessions from the Black & White label nominally covers 1942-49, but a couple of Petrillo-led musicians’-union strikes shut down so much recording activity that the real date range is 1944-47. Chronologically, it’s not a wide span. Musically, it was a time of amazing growth and changes in jazz styles, and this eleven-disc set charts those changes on two coasts (and a little in-between) featuring well-known players and should-have-been stars. Black & White was founded in Brooklyn in 1942 but soon moved to Los Angeles as changes in ownership shifted its base. It also became a label that moved far beyond the precincts of jazz, listing hillbilly, novelty, polkas, spiritual, semi-classical, and even children’s records among its offerings. Part of the challenge was moot: the label already issued the work of T-Bone Walker, Black & White’s biggest star, in 1990. Here we get the rest of it, on 11 richly populated CDs. The rest of it, that is, as chosen by Mosaic producer Scott Wenzel, who, in the detailed accompanying booklet, notes the difficulties he faced “since many sides fall in a grey area between pop vocals backed by jazz musicians (in a strictly accompaniment role) and those sessions in a rhythm and blues context.” With no single artist to focus on, they had to hand-pick their way through a huge amount of material, and t
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B.A. Nilsson is a freelance writer and actor who lives in rural New York. His interest in vintage jazz long predates his marriage to a Paul Whiteman relative, and greatly helped in winning her affections.

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