Just as the title implies, 25 Years of Greatness is a career-spanning 32-track compilation covering most of the highlights of the Wolfe Tones' first quarter of a century. There is the important caveat, however, that like many folk groups, the Wolfe Tones have recorded many of their most popular songs several times, and this collection tends to favor more recent and/or more arranged versions of the Spartan originals that graced early albums like Let the People Sing. That's not as much of a problem as it would be with some groups, however, as the Wolfe Tones have wisely resisted any temptation to "update," "modernize," or otherwise ruin a traditional Irish folk style that has worked for them for so long; even the Fairport Convention-like electric track of the new "Rock On Rockall" has a bracingly traditional feel to it. This is the Wolfe Tones set to have if you're having just one, but there's plenty more where this came from.
This collection of Artie Shaw big band recordings comes from his brief association with the Musicraft label. Having assembled and broken up several earlier units, this edition, heard in recordings made between 1945 and 1946, is more of an arranger's band than one that features many soloists, other than the leader. During this period of Shaw's career, he was constantly changing the instrumentation of his band and making personnel substitutions. Fellow Musicraft artist Mel Tormé and his group the Mel-Tones are added on some tracks, though this was a studio relationship exclusively and they were not a part of Shaw's organization. The innovative blend of strings, voices and brass in the swinging arrangement of "What Is This Thing Called Love" is the highlight of the vocal selections, along with an updated instrumental version of the clarinetist's earlier hit, "Begin the Beguine." The only reservation about this compilation is that several tracks are abruptly faded or even truncated.
Joe Lovano's recorded debut as a leader features the tenor in a quartet with pianist Ken Werner, bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Mel Lewis. Together, they perform three originals apiece by the leader and Werner. None of the tunes are simple or based on the chords of standards, but although they did not catch on, the interplay by the musicians, the excellent pacing of tempos and moods, and the consistently satisfying solos make this a set worth searching for.