LABELS: Proper Properbox
PERFORMER: Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Billy Banks, Eddie Condon, Sidney Bechet, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Earl Bostic, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ben Webster
CATALOGUE NO: Proper Properbox 155
This splendid box set is part of celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Philip Larkin. A passionate fan of early jazz from boyhood, the prolific poet was also the Daily Telegraph’s jazz critic during the 1960s writing incisive, funny and frequently acerbic record reviews.
His problem, he admitted, was that his taste ‘stopped’ in 1945. That meant modernists such as Parker, Davis and Coltrane were summarily dismissed in favour of the Swing Era and New Orleans players he related to, such as Armstrong, Beiderbecke, and Bechet.
Compiled by Larkin authorities, these four CDs sample the taste of a man who said he could live for a week without poetry but not a day without jazz. With Scarfe’s cover art, an entertaining booklet inside, and five hours of happy (hiss-free) music, this set is a gem.
An optional extra, to follow Larkin’s advice, is a pint of gin and tonic. Garry Booth