Rhino Handmade's exclusive release Hommage A Nesuhi is a five-CD boxed set honoring legendary Atlantic Records producer Nesuhi Ertegun. This release contains 61 songs by various artists dating from 1955-76. These artists were all part of the sterling roster assembled by Ertegun during his tenure as head of Atlantic's jazz division. The aim of the set is to represent the full scope of Ertegun's impact on the jazz world. Although it was Nesuhi's younger brother Ahmet who founded Atlantic Records (with Herb Abramson), the elder Ertegun joined the label in 1955 and produced some of the most significant jazz recordings of the era.
The collection is lavishly packaged in a 10" x 10" slipcase and includes some extra goodies besides the five CDs. An 84-page hardcover book tells Ertegun's story in extensive detail. A considerable amount of history is made available to those who want to go beyond the music. A portfolio of 19 photo cards offers a visual glimpse of some of the Atlantic Jazz artists who's work is featured. These photos are previously unpublished and were all taken by celebrated photographer Lee Friedlander.
Of course, the music is the main attraction and these discs are packed with great stuff. The songs, all of which were previously available on earlier releases, are arranged thematically. The first disc, "Some Atlantic Jazz," and the last disc, "Some More Atlantic Jazz," feature selections from some of the earliest Ertegun signings as well as later discoveries. In the former category, we have tunes from Milt Jackson, Chris Connor, and The Modern Jazz Quartet. The latter category features the likes of Mose Allison, Eddie Harris, and The Charles Lloyd Quartet. Also accounted for on discs one and five are such greats as Ray Charles, John Coltrane, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
The second disc is called "Shade Of Blue," and appropriately focuses on Ertegun's love of the blues. Among the highlights (a very relative term, considering all the selections can be considered highlights) are additional tracks Ertegun produced for Ray Charles and John Coltrane, as well as Charles Mingus. The third disc, "Live," is self-explanatory: ten exceptional concert recordings taken from various sources, such as several Montreux Jazz Festivals. Most of this stuff is smoking hot, including Les McCann and Eddie Harris on "Compared To What" from 1969.
"On The Edge" is the title of disc four, and it spotlights some of the most ground-breaking material released by Atlantic Jazz. Ornette Coleman is represented by two classic tracks, "Rambin'" and "Una Muy Bonita." Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "The Inflated Tear" is included, with Kirk also contributing to two great Mingus pieces, "Hog Callin' Blues" and "Passions Of A Man." Yusef Lateef, who's work can be found on other discs in the set, closes out the disc. "On The Edge" is my favorite of the five CDs, with plenty of adventurous musical explorations.
Hommage A Nesuhi, it must be noted, was overseen by another luminous figure in the world of jazz music. Joel Dorn served as this compilation's producer and sadly it wound up being his last project. Dorn was mentored by Ertegun, and many of the tracks throughout this collection were produced by him. The day after putting the final touches on the track list and liner notes for Hommage A Nesuhi, Dorn passed away. This outstanding collection of timeless jazz is a testament to the work of both men.
Hommage A Nesuhi is available exclusively at RhinoHandmade.com as an individually numbered limited edition of 3,000 copies.