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:
"MAGIC TIME." Bob Florence Limited Edition. Trend TRCD 536. Florence takes his regular collection of Los Angeles heavyweights through a program of six original works, all scored with great skill. Some unusual voicings (the title tune has six clarinets playing the melody; "Sailing" employs a brass choir with tuba) lift this above the run-of-the-mill big-band level. 4 stars.