Beyond doubt, the compact disc is the groove of the future. (Yes, yes, I know it has no grooves.) It will duly become to the LP what LPs were to 78s. Because of digital mastering (and in some cases digital recordings and mixing), the sound, read by a laser beam through the plastic surface of the 4 1/2-inch, 1-millimeter-thick disc, is just about as perfect as perfect will ever get.
Though this small, silver surface can accommodate up to 70 minutes of music on a single side, certain inconsistencies have to be resolved. A CD offering only 32 minutes looks exactly like one that may carry twice as much; moreover, the store may overcharge you for the former, as there are no firm price regulations. Even if not used to maximum capacity, of course, the discs are great space savers.
What follows is a sampling of the best I have heard, representing jazz in various styles and stages:
"HOT HOUSE FLOWERS." Wynton Marsalis. Columbia CK 39530. A year or so after its LP release, this attempt to broaden Marsalis' appeal via pop and jazz standards ("Stardust," "Django," "I'm Confessin' ") sounds just as gracefully mature, with Robert Freedman's arrangements offering support that never lapses into banality. As with most CDs, the original liner notes (by Stanley Crouch) have been retained in a leaflet. 5 stars.