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Various Artists 

Savoy on Central Avenue (Savoy Jazz)

Jazz fans, take note: Here is an affordable, rollicking two-disc collection of Los Angeles-based recordings, circa the late '40s and early '50s, that permanently eradicates two long-held myths -- that everything interesting in the genre at the time was happening in the Big Apple, and that all West Coast jazz from that era was detached or "cool."

If all you know about California jazz is the sound of Chet Baker, you're in for a jolt. There is nothing disengaged, for instance, about Roy Porter and His Orchestra, and their blaring and surrealistic "Gassin' the Wig." Johnny Otis and his band deliver similar musical chaos on "Preston Love's Mansion" and "Wedding Boogie." And if names such as Porter and Otis do not carry the instant recognition that other jazz gods might, that is exactly the point. Savoy on Central Avenue brims with half-remembered talent that went missing only because the jazz intelligentsia of the day fixed its collective gaze on the N.Y.C. skyline.

More by Jeff Hinkle


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