While pianist-arranger-composer Toshiko Akiyoshi headed a fine big band in New York after moving cross-country in 1982, the orchestra that she led in Los Angeles in the 1970s was arguably her greatest accomplishment. The three-CD Mosaic Select set Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band collects all of the music originally released on the RCA albums Kogun, Long Yellow Road, Tales of a Courtesan, Insights, and March of the Tadpoles. With such major players as Akiyoshi’s husband Lew Tabackin on tenor and flute, trumpeters Bobby Shew and Don Rader, trombonist Britt Woodman and altoist Gary Foster among the many soloists in the all-star band, the orchestra could swing as hard as any of its competitors. In addition to the more boppish pieces, Akiyoshi often wrote works that displayed her Japanese heritage, utilizing Eastern harmonies and instruments along with her husband’s flute. Many of the highpoints of her career are on this perfectly conceived Mosaic release.
Sarah Vaughan recorded frequently during her three years with Roulette, and all 16 albums she completed for them plus five previously unissued tracks are included in this comprehensive eight-CD boxed set from Mosaic. The gifted singer is heard in a variety of settings, from superb small-group sessions to big-band settings and various dates bordering on easy listening; the sessions omitting the often syrupy string sections are the cream of this bumper crop.
Johnny Smith is an exquisite jazz guitarist known mostly to fellow musicians and serious jazz fans. This beautifully packaged and expertly annotated eight-CD limited-edition boxed set from Mosaic includes his complete small-group recordings for Roost, most of which have languished out of print for decades. Smith's unique voicings on his instrument set him apart from other players, yet he maintains a lush, crystal-clear tone no matter the tempo or setting.
The independent jazz reissue label Mosaic Records garnered a rightful reputation as industry leaders and enthusiast favorites with deluxe and strictly limited-edition packages such as this one. The contents of this four-LP/three-CD collection are derived from two performances during the summer of 1954 and feature the Chet Baker Quartet: Baker (trumpet/"boom bam" percussion), Russ Freeman (piano), Carson Smith (bass), and Bob Neel (drums). The two performances – recorded July 21 at Santa Cruz's Civic Auditorium and August 10 at The Tiffany Club in Los Angeles, respectively – are presented chronologically.