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



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Drop Me Off In

HARLEM

A Vintage Jazz Portrait

Living Era – CD AJA 5504

1

Drop Me Off In Harlem

14

It Was A Sad Night In Harlem

2

Harlem Twist

15

Harlem Congo

3

Harlem Fuss

16

Reunion In Harlem

4

Jungle Nights In Harlem

17

Bojangles Of Harlem

5

Underneath The Harlem Moon

18

Harlem Air Shaft

6

Old Man Harlem

19

Harlem In My Heart

7

There’s a House In Harlem for Sale

20

Harlem Rumbain’ The Blues

8

Harlem Joys

21

I Dreamt I Dwelt In Harlem

9

Harlem Lullaby

22

Holiday In Harlem

10

Go Harlem

23

Harlem Hotcha

11

Echoes Of Harlem

24

Harlem Nocturne

12

Christmas Night In Harlem

25

Fare Thee Well To Harlem

13

Harlem Shout

   

Living Era’s ‘Drop Me Off In Harlem’ is unique if only for the fact that all twenty-five original mono titles contain the word ‘Harlem.’

During the 1920s and 30s the clubs and theatres in Harlem were the universal centre for jazz and the entertainment that accompanied it. The recordings on this disc were cut between 1928 and 1952 and most of the featured bands played in some stage in Harlem. The earliest recording is trumpet star Red Nichols’ ‘Harlem Twist’ composed by two members of the band; Fud Livingston and Chauncey Morehouse. The latest title is ‘Harlem Nocturne’ with Woody Herman on alto. This was recorded when Woody was a guest with the David Rose Orchestra and Strings. In between there are contributions from Duke Ellington, Red Allen and his Orchestra, the Dorsey Brothers, Jimmie Lunceford, the Hot Lips Page band and Fletcher Henderson to name but a few.

Overall this CD contains a well-chosen selection of the jazz of the era and, unlike many compilations, generates an ongoing interest. Hot Lips Page’s Harlem Rumbain’ The Blues treats us to Page’s typical wild and exciting playing with a forceful growl especially when soloing over the band’s backing. Don Byas is the featured tenor soloist. Holiday In Harlem played by the Chick Webb Orchestra uses his then regular vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. This was recorded in 1937 two years after she joined the band and it was a famous combination. As a bandleader Webb would see off most off most bands in the regular cutting competitions. Holiday In Harlem highlights the crisp melodic arrangements the band was noted for and Ella’s voice is as fresh as ever with her timing impeccable. The short Harlem Hotcha sees a reunion, as The Carnival Three, of an excellent combination - James P. Johnson, who wrote the piece, Omer Simeon and Pops Foster.

This CD is highly recommended – it chronicles an important jazz era played by the very best of the day.

Jack Ashby

 



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