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The New Friends of Rhythm – 1939-47 performances

The New Friends of Rhythm with Buster Bailey and Hank D’Amico (clarinets)
rec. commercially and live, 1939-47

HEP CD 1086 [76:17]




Droschky Drag
When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Capriciousness No 24
Barber's Hitch
Bach Bay Blues
Fable In Sable
Riffin' Raff
Yorkshire Pudding
Shoot The Schubert To Me Hubert
Foster Chile
High Voltage
Heavy Traffic On Canal Street
Mood In Question
Coo Dinny Coo
Sweet Sue Just You
Sailor's Dance
Mood In Question
Southern Comfort
High Voltage
Platter Chatter
Peter Ilych On The Flying Trapeze
Capriciousness No 24
Droschky Drag
Honeysuckle Rose
Barber's Hitch


Lovers of the string swing ensemble The New Friends of Rhythm will have a feast with this exemplary release from Hep. Most of the group came from Toscanini’s NBC Symphony – violinist Sylvan and cellist Alan Shulman, violist Louis Kievman, harpist Laura Newell and the NBC staffers Zelly Smirnoff and guitarist Tony Colucci along with bassist Harry Patent. Alan Shulman was the arranger and Newell the lynchpin of the group. The Shulmans, Smirnoff and Kievman formed the Stuyvesant Quartet at about the same time, a famous group that made a number of prestigious and important recordings.

The repertoire was very much "swinging the classics" - Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Paganini and others and the fare proved so popular that Victor signed them for sessions in 1939, the fruits of which are here. We also have five March 1939 broadcasts, which predate the commercial recordings, and some 1947 ten-inch sides.

Shulman’s arrangements ensured that string distribution amongst the group was vibrant and full of interesting textures. For the Paganini tribute, Capriciousness No 24, string cushioning and incisive harp contributions are the order of the day. Their Mozart is smooth and suave. The slow movement of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto makes an appearance as Fable in Sable and is played with giddy warmth. Raff is syncopated and there’s some witty Hungarian Dance work in Goulash. The group had a way with song names as a look at the head note will tell. Shulman’s own hit High Voltage is a kind of I Got Rhythm in fast tempo – cosmopolitan, full of fast New York traffic. The broadcasts are in good sound with minimal hiss and reprise three of the commercial discs.

Jazz fans will note that clarinettist Buster Bailey joins the group for three numbers – and he’s especially fluent and impressive on Mood in Question. After the war Bailey’s role was reprised by Hank D’Amico, who throws off Gliere nicely. We find that the group revisited earlier successes and naughtily changed the titles – Southern Comfort is none other than Foster Chile, perhaps retitled for reasons of sensitivity. The Bach ramble, Nightcap, is beautifully accomplished and has a semi-improvisatory feel.

The notes here are wonderfully extensive and full of detail and photographs with full discographical details. The elegant and beautifully crafted NFOR music is given first class restoration work to complete an evocative package.

Jonathan Woolf


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