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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Crotchet

FLETCHER HENDERSON
Blue Rhythm
Original Recordings 1931-1933

NAXOS JAZZ LEGENDS 8.120672

 

 

1

Sugar Foot Stomp

11

Queer Notions

2

Just Blues

12

It’s The Talk Of The Town

3

Tiger Rag

13

Night Life

4

Star Dust

14

Nagasaki

5

Singin’ The Blues

15

Rhythm Crazy

6

Radio Rhythm

16

Ain’tcha Glad

7

I’ll be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You

17

Ol’ Man River

8

Blue Rhythm

18

Minnie The Moocher’s Wedding Day

9

Take Me Away From The River

19

I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song

10

Business In F

20

Happy Feet

Fletcher Henderson was one of the 1930s ‘big band’ pioneers both in musicianship and orchestration. He used only the leading players of the day and together with Don Redman they created a style of arrangement that was adopted by many of their peers. On ‘Blue Rhythm’ are recordings made between 1931 and 1933 – a time when Henderson had one of his most impressive collection of stars in the band. They included Rex Stewart – trumpet, Coleman Hawkins – tenor and clarinet, Russell Procope – alto and clarinet, J.C. Higginbotham – trombone and Edgar Sampson – alto and clarinet who was also an accomplished arranger.

The opener ‘Sugar Foot Stomp’ is a re-arranged version of King Oliver’s ‘Dippermouth Blues.’ This up-tempo version features Procope, Hawkins and Benny Morton. The ODJB favourite, ‘Tiger Rag,’ is performed with novel approach as part of the melody is taken at half-tempo.

By the time the two 1933 sessions were made Stewart had departed to be succeeded by Henry ‘Red’ Allen and that fine trombonist Dickie Wells had also joined. Also Fletcher’s brother Horace had taken the piano chair – Horace also arranged for the band – but the quality of the music never waned. Evidence of Horace’s arranging talent is heard on the Hawkins number ‘Queer Notions’ which incorporates an harmonically advanced chord structure. Be that as it may Hawkins and Allen contribute ‘laid back’ solos.

‘Blue Rhythm’ is a first class compilation of the music of a highly capable and respected bandleader. For a few years Henderson’s music brought him great prominence but by 1934 he had to break the band up. He then enjoyed more fame as an arranger for the Benny Goodman Orchestra than he had achieved as a leader himself. For a brief period in 1939 he played piano with Goodman.

Jack Ashby


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