From Herbie to Miles to Woody, best jazz in a box

Some years are better than others when it comes to boxed sets, and this time the offerings are unusually rich:

Herbie Hancock: "The Complete Columbia Album Collection: 1972-1988" (Legacy Recordings; $249.98). Here's the magnum opus of the season's jazz boxed sets, 34 CDs documenting nearly two decades of work by the protean pianist-composer-bandleader. That's 28 albums and 3 double albums, 8 never before issued in the United States. The breadth of this music is startling, Hancock exploring African culture with his Mwandishi band, soul-funk currents via Head Hunters, back-to-jazz statements in V.S.O.P. and much more.

Miles Davis: "The Original Mono Recordings" (Legacy Recordings; $109.98). We live in a world of multiple speakers and channels, but Davis' early work on Columbia Records was recorded with monaural sound in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as was the norm. This boxed set contains nine albums newly re-mastered from the original master tapes, and most of them are now universally deemed classics. The small-group work is documented on "'Round About Midnight," "Milestones," "Jazz Track," "Kind of Blue," "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "Miles and Monk at Newport." The orchestral albums here, made with Gil Evans, are "Miles Ahead," "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain."

Dave Douglas: "DD/50: 50th Birthday Recordings" (Greenleaf Music;$50). One of the most multifaceted trumpeters in contemporary jazz, Douglas seems to take on a new persona with each recording. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say his inimitably lyrical sound flourishes in practically any musical setting. This set marks Douglas' recent 50th birthday and includes three albums: "Be Still," "Time Travel" and "Pathways," plus a "DD/50" DVD.

William Parker: "Wood Flute Songs: Anthology/Live 2006-2012" (AUM Fidelity; $60). The abstract, free ranging, profoundly expressive music on these 8 CDs extends our understanding of what jazz can be. Bassist Parker's quartet – with drummer Hamid Drake, alto saxophonist Rob Brown and trumpeter Lewis Barnes – plays a central role in most of these live performances, with additional contributions from violinist Billy Bang, cornetist Bobby Bradford, alto saxophonist James Spaulding and others. This is daring, venturesome music for those with ears wide open.

"The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions" (Mosaic Records; $102). Chicago has produced more than its share of leonine tenor saxophonists, and Jordan ranked among them. Two albums he recorded for Strata-East Records are included here: "Clifford Jordan In the World" (1969), with Julian Priester, Wynton Kelly and Wilbur Ware, plus Don Cherry, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Kenny Dorham, Ed Blackwell and Roy Haynes on particular tracks; and "Glass Bead Games" (1973), with Stanley Cowell, Bill Lee, Billy Higgins, Cedar Walton and Sam Jones. In addition, the set includes albums Jordan produced: Cecil Payne's "Zodiac" (1968), Charles Brackeen's "Rhythm X" (1968), "Shades of Edward Blackwell" (1968), "Pharoah Sanders' "Izipho Zam" (1969) and Ware's "Super Bass" (not released until 2012). Six CDs in all.

Woody Shaw: "The Complete Muse Sessions" (Mosaic Records; $119). Less celebrated than he ought to be, trumpeter Shaw produced an alluring body of work that comes into sharper focus with Mosaic's second set of his music. This one includes his first recording, from 1965, plus key work from the 1970s and mature playing of the late 1980s, on seven CDs. Once you become reacquainted with the man's silvery lyricism, you will not forget it.

Miles Davis Quintet: "Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2" (Legacy Recordings; $49.98). Trumpeter Davis' art reached across so many idioms, decades, continents and fashions – in both productive and dispiriting ways – that the backlog of live and studio recordings may never run out. This set, with 3 CDs and 1 DVD, follows up on "Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1" (released in 2011), which documented music by Davis' second great quintet. This time, the personnel and the music have changed dramatically. Only Wayne Shorter appears from the previous quintet, joined here by keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette. It's a precious glimpse of a band that we have known too little about.

hreich@tribune.com

Twitter @howardreich

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