Various Artists

Larkin's Jazz - Proper Box 155 (four-disc box set)

Between 1961 and 1971, Britain’s best-loved poet became Britain’s most hated jazz critic, at least by other critics. In his Telegraph reviews, Philip Larkin was to Coltrane, Ornette and Miles what Brian Sewell is to Hirst, Emin and Serota. Filling the first two discs here is a treasury of Armstrong, Bechet, Condon and so on, the 78s Larkin loved, if not necessarily the artists’ best works. The third and fourth CDs collate items he reviewed and actually liked, mainly reissues. A 54-page book relates every track to the life, the poetry or the reviews. This bumper mixed bag is about the contribution jazz made to Larkin, not the converse, so listen while reading his All What Jazz. And remember to pour yourself a large gin and tonic…

Sound Quality: 80%