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



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Living Era CDAJS271 2CDs

 

 

 

 

DISC 1

  1. A Smooth One - Benny Goodman
  2. Body & Soul - Coleman Hawkins
  3. I’ll Never Be the Same - Billie Holiday/Teddy Wison
  4. Moonglow - Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli
  5. Blue & Sentimental - Count Basie
  6. Begin the Beguine - Artie Shaw
  7. Deep in a Dream - Connee Boswell/Woody Herman
  8. The man I Love - Benny Goodman
  9. Stardust - Glenn Miller
  10. You Go to My Head - Billie Holiday
  11. A Ghost of a Chance - Cab Calloway
  12. Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington/Ivie Anderson
  13. Blues in Thirds - Sidney Bechet
  14. Nuages - Django Reinhardt
  15. It’s Only a Paper Moon - John Kirby
  16. Passion Flower - Johnny Hodges
  17. Out of Nowhere - Lena Horne/Teddy Wilson
  18. Willow, Weep for Me - Cab Calloway/Hinton Jefferson
  19. My Old Flame - Peggy Lee/Benny Goodman
  20. I can’t Get Started - Lester Young/Nat Cole Trio
  21. I Got It Bad - Duke Ellington/Ivie Anderson
  22. Sweet & Lovely - Flip Phillips
  23. Skylark – Billy Eckstine/Earl Hines

Like most compilations this one is good in parts, but unlike many others, this one is good in most parts. It also contains some interesting musical curiosities like the first track by Benny Goodman, where he only gets a short solo and Cootie Williams, Georgie Auld and Charlie Christian play the main solos. It is still a very good track however. Coleman Hawkins rendition of Body and Soul is always worth listening to, what a musical giant he was!

Billie Holiday crops up a couple of times on Disc 1 and gives a couple of classic renderings in her unique style, similarly Reinhardt and Grappelli are as appealing as ever. The Basie Band weigh in with Blue & Sentimental with the theme statement played by Hershel Evans, who possessed such a wonderful big saxophone sound.

There are classic Big Band renderings of Begin the Beguine (Artie Shaw), Stardust (Glenn Miller), Mood Indigo and I Got it Bad (Duke Ellington), Lester Young is heard on Clarinet and Tenor on the Basie track

There is a classic compilation oddity in that the excellent Chu Berry is listed as soloist on Ghost of a Chance, but he is not listed in the personnel, there is no doubt however that Chu is the soloist on this excellent track. Goodman is extensively featured on the Quartet version of The Man I Love as are Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson, the latter appears on a number of the tracks and when listening to his immaculate playing it is easy to see why he was in such demand.

It was nice to hear a track from the John Kirby Band, who were purveyors of neatly played society jazz, the Charlie Shavers trumpet work is particularly impressive. Johnny Hodges is heard on Passion Flower a Strayhorn composition, with a small group from the Ellington Band, with the Duke himself on piano. Star vocalists come to the fore in the latter tracks, at the time these recordings were made however they had not achieved star status, they were just band vocalists, but it is easy to hear why Lena Horne, Peggy Lee and Billie Eckstine had star potential. Hilton Jefferson plays a fine solo on Willow Weep for Me with the Cab Calloway Orchestra.

There is an absolute gem on I Can’t Get Started, the combination of Lester Young and Nat Cole with bassist Red Callender is delightful. There is also a superb Sweet and Lovely by the very underrated Flip Phillips. Side 1 concludes with a very fine rendition of the great Hoagy Carmichael tune Skylark, by Billy Eckstine with a very fine Earl Hines Band.

DISK 2

  1. Sophisticated Lady – Duke Ellington
  2. Lover Man – Sarah Vaughan/ Dizzy Gillespie
  3. I Don’t Know Why – Don Byas
  4. Sweet Lorraine – Frank Sinatra/Metronome All Stars
  5. Just One More Chance – Lucky Thompson
  6. Robbins’ Nest – Claude Thornhill
  7. Embraceable You – Charlie Parker
  8. September Song – Sarah Vaughan/Teddy Wilson
  9. Midnight Sun – Lionel Hampton
  10. No Moon at All – Nat Cole
  11. April in Paris – Coleman Hawkins
  12. September Song – George Shearing
  13. One For My Baby – Sinatra/Axel Stordahl
  14. There’s a Small Hotel – Stan Getz
  15. But Not for Me – Ella Fitzgerald
  16. Bernie’s Tune
  17. Don’t Blame Me – Charlie Parker
  18. Any Time, Any Day, Anywhere - Lee Wiley/Joe Dushkin
  19. Yesterdays – Stan Getz
  20. Taking a Chance on Love – Billy Eckstine/George Shearing
  21. Laura – Nat Cole
  22. Moonlight in Vermont – Johnny Smith/Stan Getz
  23. My Funny Valentine – Gerry Mulligan
  24. Harlem Nocturne – Woody Herman
  25. Dream a Little Dream of Me – Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong/ Sy Oliver

I found DISC 1 very enjoyable, but DISC 2 is even better, it is mixture of some very familiar tracks, like the tracks by Gerry Mulligan and Stan Getz, which are great favourites of mine and some less familiar but equally good music. The tracks by Don Byas and Lucky Thompson demonstrate just what underrated giants of the Tenor Saxophone they were. In today’s jazz world nearly everyone sounds like a John Coltrane clone, which is such a great pity when there has been such a diversification of great players in the past. Another favourite of mine is Hamp’s Midnight Sun, which is also included here and the young Sinatra on Sweet Lorraine is in excellent voice. There are also splendid tracks from Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald and Nat Cole; the excellent George Shearing Quintet from 1949 with Marjorie Hyams on vibes is also featured. Coleman Hawkins version of April in Paris is a classic track; there are also further classics from the legendary Charlie Parker.

I can remember buying the Johnny Smith/ Stan Getz, Moonlight in Vermont track in the 1950’s and marveling at the beauty of what I was hearing. Similarly the Mulligan/Baker My Funny Valentine and everyone at that time was dazzled by the technical excellence and unique tone of Stan Getz, heard here on Small hotel and Yesterdays.

Whether Sinatra’s One For My Baby track is jazz, is a point of conjecture, but that it is a classic of popular music can not be disputed. Lady Fitz is heard on two tracks one with pianist Ellis Larkins and the other with Louis Armstrong and the Sy Oliver Orchestra. Bobby Hackett is in fine form on cornet on track 18 backing singer Lee Wiley.

 

Lets have three cheers for LIVING ERA and for Ray Crick who compiled this album, it is quite the best jazz compilation album I have listened to. An awful lot of the other have made me doubt whether the person responsible ever listened to some of the tracks!

Don Mather

 



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