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John DankworthTHE ZODIAC VARIATIONS & THE $1,000,000 COLLECTION Reviews for the product - John Dankworth
THE ZODIAC VARIATIONS & THE $1,000,000 COLLECTION
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1 Product Reviews - Average rating 5 / 5 (Best Rated | Worst Rated | Most Recent | Oldest)

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MUST-HAVE DANKWORTH-Superbly Remastered

- 01/12/2018

For many Dankaholics like myself, his Big Band Concept Albums were the cream of John\'s distinguished output. ZODIAC VARIATIONS and MILLION DOLLAR COLLECTION (featured on this CD release in a double album) followed the perhaps better known WHAT THE DICKENS. All three of course featured original material, written around a concept for the album. They were performed by the superb big bands that John somehow managed to bring together from the late fifties to the late sixties - a time when rock ruled the roost and even Ellington and Basie struggled a little in America. The albums are true \'big band\' - pure and unadulterated - no concession to rock and no attempt to \'fuse\'. The last of the swingers. Top guest soloists were featured - on these albums, Clark Terry, Bob Brookmeyer, Lucky Thompson, Phil Woods, Zoot Sims, Kenny Wheeler, Osie Johnson, Henry Lowther, Mike Gibbs, Ronnie Scott, Tony Coe - and there are beautiful contributions from the regulars - Danny Moss, David Snell, Kenny Napper, Leon Calvert, Les Condon, Laurie Holloway - too many to mention them all.

The format for both albums perfectly suits the line-up favoured by Dankworth during this period. Small groups and soloists interplay with the band, weaving in and out of the music. Every piece is carefully crafted, lyrical one moment, exciting the next. The albums develop as you listen and the tracks blend. On ZODIAC VARIATIONS the concept is unified by clever variations on Dankworth\'s melodies.

CD1 features ZODIAC VARIATIONS, thirteen tracks, each given an astrological sign, each composed and performed in the mood of the stereotypical, astrological characteristic of the sign. Dankworth even procured soloists for the respective tracks born under the sign which features them! Whether you believe in this stuff (or adhere like myself to the Steven Fry \'Bottom Gravy\' persuasion) matters not a jot. The variations are stunning - beautifully played, inventive and exciting. The sequence opens with a belter, a real blast, develops cunningly through the chart signs to an explosive conclusion. And like all great music, it improves with repeated listening - you never get sick of it.

CD2 contrasts nicely. In MILLION DOLLAR COLLECTION Dankworth provides a musical mirror to a selection of art works - a kind of jazz take on Mussorgsky\'s \'Pictures from an Exhibition\'. Each track relates to a painting. \'Madonna\', for example is an expression of Picasso\'s \'Mother and Child\'. The pieces are more individual and reflective than those on ZODIAC VARIATIONS - though there is cohesion in the concept and style - more perhaps as a result of performance than composition. There are some stunning tracks, Dankworth at the top of his game - and all immaculately played with some thrilling solo work. It\'s fabulous music.

Mike Dutton - who remastered these albums - is described by the Penguin Guide as a \'genius\'. Truly he is. Much as I would like to, I cannot convey how good this CD sounds - full, rich, detailed - in every aspect superb. He has produced other big bands, equally well - Shaw, Brown, Miller, Dorsey, James, Heath - many others. I\'m hoping for a remaster of Dankworth\'s album JAZZ ROUTES. Some stunning Lindup compositions on that album alongside his own.

This double CD represents my best buy in an age. It\'s beautifully presented with complete, original liner notes in booklet form. If you bought the albums in the sixties, it\'s a must-have. If you\'re a Dankworth fan, it\'s a must-listen. If you\'re a big band nut ... well ... buy it. You won\'t be disappointed.


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