Various Artists: Justin Time Records 20th Anniversary Compilation (2003)
Jim West, the guiding force behind Justin Time, Canada's major jazz label, has demostrated a considerable degree of rich musical taste and commercial savvy over the past two decades. This two disc compilation gives a stimulating overview of his eclectism.
While offering a few samples of electric blues and black gospel, none particularly innovative, the real meat of this collection lies in mainstream and avant-garde jazz, with a strong emphasis on pianists and vocalists. Diana Krall is surprisingly and delightfully represented here on a Nat King Cole tune from her first album, revealing her as a wryly swinging pianist more than the sexy siren she has since become. Canadian pianists range from the most conversative (Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones) to the most experimental (Paul Bley).
Many of the most pleasurable are by Canadian artists deserving wider international recognition. One outstanding example is vocalist Carol Egan, whose finely modulated cool delivery makes her a June Christy of our era. Composer-pianist John Stetch is also one to watch, growing out of a Bill Evans-Keith Jarrett vein into a major voice of his own.
While overwhelmingly representative of Canadian jazz artists, West's label has also put Americans like David Murray, the World Saxophone Quartet, and Billy Bang on its talent roster, and their selections are comparable to their finest recordings elsewhere. Violinist Bang's "Moments for the KIA/MIA" is the Vietnam vet's plaintive composition honoring those killed and missing in action during that war, exhibiting a heartbreakingly haunting theme modeled on a Vietnamese-sounding melody. It may be the most distinguished recording of his long and honorable career. All in all, a remarkable label compilation revealing taste and enormous musical vision while asserting Canada's place as a major jazz center.
Track Listing: 1. Pennies From Heaven, 2. Girl Talk, 3. Straighten Up and Fly Right, 4. The Welcoming, 5. No Separation, 6. I'll Remember April, 7. In A Mellow Tone, 8. Fine and Mellow, 9. Speak Low, 10. Sweet and Lowdown, 11. Surrey With the Fringe On Top, 12. Heavens Of A Hundred Days, 13.Milonga Del Amor Perdido, The Twelve Of Never, Love Love, 16. Aerol's Change, 17, Harlem Nocturne, 18. This The end Of A Love Affair, 19. Blues, 20. Moments for the KIA/MIA, 21. A Laugh For Rory, 22. Intrada, 23. Spaceman, 24. Still My Girl, 25. Player's Anthem, 26. Travellin, 27. I Don't Feel No Ways Tired, 28. Beautician Blues, 29. Vibra King Blues.
Personnel: Susie Arioli Swing Band, Oliver Jones and Skip Bey, Diana Krall, D.D. Jackson, Russell Gunn, Coral Egan and Alex Cattaneo, Dave Young With Oscar Peterson, Ranee Lee, Rob McConnell Tentet, Dave Van Ronk, Oscar Peterson, John Stetch, Intakto, Jeri Brown, Paul Bley, David Murray Latin Big Band, P.J. Perry & The Edmounton Symphony Orchestra, Carmen Lundy, World Saxophone Quartet, Billy Bang, Jane Bunnett, Quartango, Hugh Ragin Trumpet Ensemble, Hamiet Bluiet, Curtis Lundy, Fontalla Bass, Mobtreal Gospel Jubilation Gospel Choir, Beryan Lee, Beau Kavanaugh and the Broken Hearted.