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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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Crotchet

HARRY JAMES AND HIS MUSIC MAKERS

Music Making

Submarine DSOY 693

 

 

 
1. Theme/The Back Beat Boogie
2. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
3. The G flat Special
4. My Beloved is Rugged
5. Rose Room
6. It’s the Talk of the Town
7. Opus One
8. I’m Beginning to See the Light
9. Oh, Lady Be Good
10. Temptation
11. Easy
12. St Louis Blues/Theme

Benny Goodman certainly had an eye for talent. In the 1930s, he employed at least three musicians who went on to form their own very successful big bands: Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa and Harry James. James formed his band in 1939 and kept it going for most of his life.

These tracks were recorded for radio broadcasts between 1943 and 1946 and exemplify the infectious power of the group. Trumpeter Harry James is naturally the featured soloist: swinging nonchalantly in The Back Beat Boogie; more extrovert on The G flat Special; and blowing with full force on St Louis Blues. Space is also given to such stars as Willie Smith (soloing on clarinet in Rose Room and his more usual alto-sax in Opus One) and tenorist Corky Corcoran (notably breathy in It’s the Talk of the Town and Opus One).

There are vocals from the likes of Ginny Powell and Kitty Kallen – the latter singing the embarrassingly propagandistic My Beloved is Rugged ("He was never so healthy Till he joined the army"). But most of the tunes are reliable jazz standards, delivered with panache. Apart from the talented soloists, the most impressive thing about the band is probably its unified swing. And the sound is as good as one can expect in recordings from the forties.


Tony Augarde

 



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