Nesuhi Ertegun (1917–1991) arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1934, when his father became Turkey’s ambassador to the United States. His brother, Ahmet, went on to start Atlantic Records — which became the home of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and the Rolling Stones. And in 1955, Nesuhi, who’d been running jazz labels on the West Coast, became a jazz producer for the company.
In the years to come, Nesuhi would produce classic records by Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Charles. And this beautifully packaged, five-disc release — the last project assembled by his protégé Joel Dorn, who died in 2007 — gives us the fullest sense of Nesuhi’s achievement. You’ll hear standards (the Modern Jazz Quintet’s “Summertime”), groundbreaking recordings (Yusef Lateef’s “In a Little Spanish Town”), and live performances (by Charles, Ray Bryant, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk). You’ll also get a coffee-table book (with essays by Nat Hentoff, Leiber and Stoller, and Dr. John) and a portfolio of excellent, framable photos. Yes, Hommage à Nesuhi is expensive — it retails for $149.98 — but the extras turn this limited-edition (3,000 numbered copies) set into a jazz fanatic’s dream come true.
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