November 01, 1999 12:00 PM

Various Artists (Vanguard)

Album of the week

Here’s history with a beat. And what a beat! This three-CD set is a record of two landmark gospel-jazz concerts at Carnegie Hall in 1938 and 1939. The concerts were produced by John Hammond, the Columbia Records visionary who had already discovered Billie Holiday and Count Basie and would go on to sign Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. Offering a forum, he said, for “talented Negro artists…who had been denied entry to the white world of popular music,” Hammond presented a dazzling bill that included Basie and his marvelous band (featuring sax genius Lester Young and trumpeter Buck Clayton) and blues legends Sonny Terry and Big Bill Broonzy—not to mention gospel’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the spectacular Golden Gate Quartet.

Bottom Line: Historic, swinging and spirited

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