The best CD box sets of 2011: from jazz to trance
by By Richard Antone
Jan 19, 2012 | 2873 views | 1 1 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print

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So you've wrapped up 2011. Perhaps you managed to avoid eating bad fruit cake or making a fool of yourself at holiday parties. Enjoy these sounds that never go out of style. Here, in no particular order, is a look back at some of the best boxed sets of 2011.

Live In Europe 1967-Miles Davis Quintet(Columbia/Legacy)

Two year before reinventing himself with the jazz fusion of In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew, Miles Davis toured Europe with his expert quintet-bassist Ron Carter, pianist Herbie Hancock, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and drummer Tony Williams. This 3-CD set follows the band around Europe for three days of sizzling sets, all previously unreleased.

Never playing songs the same way twice, blending one song into the next, Miles and associates had worked out a musical telepathy, making each concert a virtual extended piece. They burn though favorites like "'Round Midnight" and "On Green Dolphin Street," Herbie Hancock's "Riot" and Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" and "Masqualero."

The Complete RCA Album Collection-Nina Simone (RCA/Legacy)

At long last, a boxed set with all nine of Nina Simone's studio albums from her brilliant 1967-1974 run on RCA, with alternate takes and extra tracks from subsequent albums. If anyone deserves Duke Ellington's compliment "beyond category" it's Nina Simone, blessed with a strong and silken voice, thrilling piano skills and an ear for great songs. From the protest of "Backlash Blues," "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" and "Why (The King Of Love Is Dead)" to the ballads "Suzanne" and "The Look of Love," from the anthems "Turn, Turn, Turn," "To Be Young, Gifted And Black" and "I Shall Be Released" to the optimism of "Here Comes The Sun" and "O-O-H Child," Simone's versatility and vision glow. From originals to an impressive array of covers, Simone followed her own restless muse.

Best of The Best-Frank Sinatra (Capitol)

Like The albums they came from, there's nothing but gems here from Sinatra's classic albums for Capitol and Reprise. This collection features many classic arrangements by Nelson Riddle with swingers like "I've Got The World On A String," "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Witchcraft" and ballads "All The Way" and "My Funny Valentine." Other great arrangements by Don Costa, Billy May, Gordon Jenkins and Quincy Jones are also included. An extra treat is the bonus CD '57 In Concert, recorded in Seattle. It pairs Sinatra with Riddle's arrangements of "It Happened At Monterey" and "A Foggy Day."

Jazz:The Smithsonian Anthology-Various Artists (Smithsonian Folkways)

A 6-CD overview of jazz from its roots in Scott Joplin's ragtime and Bessie Smith's blues to jazz fusion. Included are pioneers Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Coleman Hawkins. Also featured are modern jazz titans Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonius Monk and several tracks by Miles Davis. Vocalists Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan are represented, as are big bandleaders Benny Goodman and Chick Webb, pianists Bill Evans, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum and Mary Lou Williams. Free jazz icons Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra, saxophonist supreme John Coltrane, jazz fusion stars The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Latin Jazz legends Machito, Tito Puente and Irakere coexist.

The overrated Original Dixeland Jazz Band is included, while Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Branford Marsalis, Nina Simone and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross should be. Still it's a great introduction to newcomers.

The Smile Sessions- The Beach Boys (Capitol)

The long lost, ambitious follow-up to Pet Sounds is here. The complete album, once shelved by Brian Wilson arrives in grand style with his and surviving bandmates' participation. Brilliant melodies, harmonies and innovative arrangements abound. There are 5 CDs, 2 LPs and two singles, containing alternate takes, additional material and many exciting sessions of "Good Vibrations and "Heroes and Villains." Well worth getting.

A State of Trance 500-Various Artists (Armada)

DJ Armin Van Buuren marks the tenth anniversary and 500th episode of his popular radio show, A State Of Trance with this boxed set of "trance" music mixes by himself and fellow DJ/producers Cosmic Gate, Andy Moor, Paul Oakenfold and Markus Schulz. They spin hypnotic webs of dance music that'll get any party started.

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anonymous
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June 26, 2012
Thanks for sharing this.

Well, certainly true. This really doesn't go out of style. Its even better than new ones. Love it.

Nica

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