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on 24 December 2010
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and quite diverse compilation!!!!!
Yes, it took me a while to get used to the beauty of Ruby Braff's playing... He was obviously a disciple of earlier cornet/trumpet giants (why, he said it himself - he was a disciple of L. Armstrong university, from which you never graduate)but, actually, he doesn't sound like Armstrong, Berigan, Beiderbecke, Clayton, Eldridge or any of the older trumpet giants who preceded him. Stylistically, you can put him between Chicago school of jazz, swing (and dixieland) BUT the diversity of his tone is WAY above the average (check out his lower-register inventiveness if you please!);
his melodical inventiveness is obviously at the top of, well, mainstream jazz while the way he sounds (and constructs his solos) is actually transceding any style the material, other musicians or the record procuder might want to drag him into. Actually, in being so unique, Braff reminds me of another gigantic and momentuous trumpet player - Henry "Red" Allen...

I believe this 2 CD album-compilation finds Ruby in excellent form, with various sounds and arrangements, in great company, to say the least.
The first album "Hi-Fi Salute to Bunny", tribute to B. Berigan (recorded in 1957) finds Ruby in the company of Benny Morton (tb), Pee Wee Russell (cl), Dick Hafer (ts), Nat Pierce (p), Steve Jordan (g), Walter Page (b) and Buzzy Drootin (dm).... Any record with Pee Wee Russell will be high on my wishlist and this is a great one, but Ruby is the star in spite of the illustrious company of other horns (Benny Morton is hardly a slouch himself)...

The second album (recorded in '58) is maybe only slightly less impressive than the first, but it's also great; it finds Ruby in two set-ups; the first more arranged and disciplined, the other more loose (but MAYBE not swinging as hard as one would expect from horn combination).
The album is "Easy Now - Ruby Braff and his men"... The men are:
a)Emmett Berry (tp), Vic Dickenson (tb), Bob Wilber (ts), Marty Napoleon (p), Mundell Lowe (g), Leonard Gaskin (b), Don Lamond (dm)
b)Roy Eldridge (tp), Hank Jones (p), M. Lowe (g), L. Gaskin (b), D. Lamond (dm)

The third album (recorded in '59) is the most modern sounding (no, nothing far-out, just a touch of advanced swing and maybe even occasional cool); it's a marvelously arranged "Ruby Braff and his Trumpet" with
Don Elliot (vb), Mundell Lowe (g), Hank Jones or Nat Pierce (p), Milt Hinton (b), Don Lamond (dm)... In light of what I said of relative "modernity" of this album, Nat Hentoff's very useful liner notes inform us that Stan Getz's interpretation was the main inspiration for Ruby's version of "You'd be so nice to come home to"... Incidentaly, it is just one of great standards played on this album (Swing that music, Let's do it...) and on other albums of this compilation songs such as Yesterdays, I'm Coming Virginia, I can't get started, I got it bad (and that ain't good)...

The rest of this package (one of my better purchases on the amazon website) is taken by two performances from the great Newport jazz festival; the first one, quite well known (back to 1957), by The Ruby Braff Octet, has part of the line-up from the first album (which is very good), including the great Pee Wee (a jazz giant comparable to Dizzy, Miles, Hawk and other jazz giants IMHO):
P. W. Russell (cl), Sam Margolis (ts), Jimmy Welch (valv-tb), N. Pierce (p), S. Jordan (g), W. Page (b), B. Drootin (dm)... And boy, do they swing on "It don't mean a thing", "These foolish things" and "Oh! Lady be good"! Believe you me, this live music will transcend you to another level!
Apparently, the original recording of this group includes chatting of Ruby and the MC, but it was edited out in order to include, another less familiar session from the same festival, this time in 1959...
Here we have Ruby in a group called Jimmy Rushing & The Newport All-Stars:
J. Rushing (vo), Buck Clayton, R. Braff (tp), P. W. Russell (cl), Bud Freeman (ts), Vic Dickenson (tb), Ray Bryant (p), Freddie Green (g), Champ Jones (b), B. Drootin (dm)....

You can see from the line-up this material is actually quite diverse; in addition to a whole lot of trumpet playing, there are some MAGNIFICENT contributions by a great clarinetist, mighty trombone players and other musicians... Buy it while it's hot - it has liner notes, personelle, dates and everything (the data I'm giving is available inside the booklet; the interpetation is mine).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 September 2010
Ruby Braff's rich tone and melodic sense are to the fore in this budget compilation of three-and-a-bit late fifties albums. The first (Hi-Fi Salute to Bunny) was recorded in the spring of 1957, and featured also Benny Morton on trombone, Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, Dick Hafer on tenor sax, Nat Pierce on piano, Steve Jordan on guitar, Walter Page on bass, and Buzzy Drootin on drums. Jumping to the bonus 1957 Newport tracks, the line-up is the same but for Sam Margolis substituting on tenor sax, and Jimmy Welch on valve trombone being added. Bud Freeman is present on the two 1959 tracks which end side 2, so that you can easily curtail Jimmy Rushing's repetitive ride-out on "St Louis Blues" after the first hearing.

Easy Now comprises two sessions dating from August 1958, the first featuring Emmett Berry on trumpet, Bob Wilber on tenor sax, Vic Dickenson on trombone, Marty Napoleon on piano, Mundell Lowe on guitar, Leonard Gaskin on bass, and Don Lamond on drums. For the second, substitute Roy Eldridge on trumpet & flugelhorn, Hank Jones on piano, with the same guitar, bass & drums.

You're Getting to be a Habit with Me dates from 1959, has Don Lamond on drums, Don Elliot on vibes, Mundell Lowe on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass, and Hank Jones or Nat Pierce on piano.

This is wonderful music-making, relaxed but assured, in which every player knows his part, and plays it superbly well. Stand-out track has to be Swing that Music.
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on 27 February 2011
This double CD represents the usual Avid label value, giving as it does, 160 minutes of music at a (Amazon) bargain price. So what's the problem?
Well, although we have a range of mainstream jazz numbers played by top notch musicians, it all sounds a bit "routine" and could , in fact be dance music. There's no bite or excitement to it. not like, say, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Jack Teagarden, Bob Crosby or indeed our own superb Alex Welsh. I find myself just listening to it as background music rather than "sit up and take notice" jazz.
Also, in common with the other Avid CDs taken from mid-50s LPs, the sound, whilst striving to be clear and "hi fi" is much too bright and sharp. This is shown up particularly in the reedy, high register clarinet warblings of the erratic Pee Wee Russell.
Compare this to, for example, the excellently mastered CBS "Dixieland Jam" by the Eddie Condon Allstars both for exciting jazz listening and sound quality (stereo in 1957!) or the Robert Parker Bob Crosby CD.
So, if you simply want a lot of music for your money, you can't go wrong with this one but you won't be too excited.
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on 10 April 2011
Three very good albums put together at a bargain price. Effortless playing by Ruby Braff is matched by lots of solos from other stars of mainstream jazz. Unfortunately, I only like the clarinet when it's played in the lower register (e.g. Barney Bigard is usually fine by me)and, since one of the albums features Pee Wee Russell, I've only given a 4 star rating. Russell's tone is far too spiky and aggressive for my taste but when you have solos from Braff, Vic Dickenson, Bud Freeman, Roy Eldridge, Hank Jones and others it does seem a little nigardly to complain about not liking clarinets! However, four stars and not five. Nevertheless, great value.
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on 11 August 2012
More than 30 years ago I bought my first Ruby Braff LP and wore it out. To have all this music for this price is a bargain I could not have dreamed of at that time, and to have several hours of Braff on my computer system to be played and played is a joy. He was a very unpleasant man and yet he had this enormous talent to give us so much enjoyment. For me he was the greatest jazz instrumentalist.
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on 5 September 2012
I really like Ruby Braff's trumpet and cornet playing. He tends to play in a lower register which gives a lovely rubato sound. I have been informed that he wasn't easy to get along with but no discord is apparent on these albums. He has a variety of fine jazz musicians accompanying him including Mundell Lowe (guitar); Hank Jones (piano); Pee Wee Russell (clarinet); Vic Dickenson (trombone) and Roy Eldridge (trumpet). Quite a lot of the tunes are standards [Give My Regards to Broadway; I Got it Bad (And That Ain't Good); I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter and It Don't Mean a Thing If it Ain't Got That Swing].
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on 24 March 2014
and has played so many genre's of jazz with so many combos and bands that he has to be one of the stalwarts of the Revival - only compared to his oppo Vic Dickenson on slide trombone.
Bunny Berigan, on the other hand, was a real prodigy and, possibly, the most popular trumpeter of the swing era and Braff is far too good a musician to indulge in any of Berigan's excesses.
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on 22 April 2014
This is a set of sessions done by musicians who are at the top of their form - confident and excellent
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on 12 November 2016
Terrific, for those who like the ebullient and flowing Ruby Braff.
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on 26 February 2017
All as expected
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