All That Jazz

Masters of Jazz isn't entirely masterful. The liner notes could have included more mention of racial issues as the sociopolitical underpinnings of the music. And the set's almost complete neglect of jazz singing is a curious oversight considering the text duly notes that the rise of bandstand singers in the '40s and '50s contributed to the death of the big-band sound.

But this doesn't attempt to be a groundbreaking anthology of academic import. Purists and other persnickety jazz buffs needn't bother checking it out. These four discs are instead a layman's introduction--a quick, no-sweat sketch of an American art form that became the world's music.

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