Various Artists: 55 Years Of Jazz & 55 Years Of Blues

Everybody knows Motown, Sun, Stax and Chess as four great American record labels but how many know Chicago’s Delmark Records? The release of these two twofers might rectify that. Brilliant in execution, awe-inspiring as track after track pours forth with surprises galore, both these compilations come complete with CD and DVD.

Jazzwise, despite a 2003 50th Anniversary release, Delmark’s catalog is so rich and diverse, celebrating 55 keeps the tradition alive as under-the-radar artists like French trumpeter Yves Francois, The Deep Blue Organ Trio and Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls prove totally irresistible. Rock’n’Roll Sax Legend King Curtis was years away from his groundbreaking work with The Coasters when he recorded “Dynamite At Midnight” at age 22 in 1956. Similarly, trombone man Curtis Fuller had yet to make his mark with John Coltrane when he layed down “Trane’s “Equinox” with trumpeter Brad Goode. Plus, there’s no shortage of legends: Sun Ra! Art Hodes! Coleman Hawkins! The DVD is similarly loaded with delicious esoteric visuals like Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble and nine others.

Blueswise, a great comp is always judged by if the unknowns are even better than the tracks you know are going to be great. That’s exactly what happens here as favorites like Junior Wells, Sleepy John Estes, Roosevelt Sykes, Otis Rush and JB Hutto certainly hold up their end of the bargain but actually get eclipsed by the surprise rockin’ and funkin’ and deep-down soul-searchin’ of such “unknowns” as the spectacular Detroit Junior, Barkin’ Bill, Bonnie Lee, Speckled Red and more. There’s not a clinker in the bunch. The DVD has 10 such “finds” plumbing the depths of that blues feeling.

Delmark continues to this day to give a voice to those who have absolutely nothing going for them but pure talent. Gee, what a novel concept!

In A Word: Historic