1. Theme: Howdy Friends, I'm an Old Cowhand
2. You Started Something
3. You Came a Long Way From St. Louis
4. Stars Fell on Alabama
5. What Did I Do?
6. Mint Julep
7. Blue Skies
8. On a Slow Boat to China
9. Hair of Gold, Eyes of Blue
10. Blue Moon
11. The Richest Man in the Cemetery
12. Hangover Square
13. Theme: Howdy Friends
Harvey Nevins - Alto sax, flute
Sonny Salad - Alto sax, clarinet
Bunny Bardach, Lee Balandyk - Tenor saxes
Deane Kincaide - Baritone sax
Joe Ferrante, Bobby Styles, Dave Bowman - Trumpets
Irv Dinkin, Vernon Friley, Dave Pittman - Trombones
Joe Cribari - Piano
John Chance - Bass
Ray McKinley - Drums, vocals
Jean Friley - Vocals
These recordings were made at the Hotel New Yorker on various dates in 1948.
Ray McKinley was a friend of Glenn Miller and he played drums in Glenn's Band on many occasions. After Glenn's death, he even fronted the Miller band for a while. On this record it is his own band and there is no attempt to copy the Miller band and the band is very typical of the commercial big bands in the USA at that time. The standard of musicianship is high and the band sounds well rehearsed; the arrangements are neat and they are well played by the band members. The soloists are competent but their scope is limited by the commercial nature of the band.
Ray McKinley is an entertaining vocalist and no doubt a crowd pleaser, but he was not up with the main men in that department. He liked to specialise in the vocals that had something of a touch of comedy about them.
Jean Friley has a pleasant voice, but her vocals are less frequent than those of McKinley, I had not heard her before this recording. Most of the tunes are familiar but The Richest Man in the Cemetery has an amusing vocal line and is played with a calypso rhythm.
There are two tracks on which the arrangements were made by Eddie Sauter; they feature his own compositions Mint Julep and Hangover Square. Eddie was to become one of the greatest of all big-band arrangers and it is a tribute to the band that they held these complex charts down well.
Big Band fans will welcome this opportunity to have a recording of the Ray McKinley Band and Sounds of Yester Year are to be congratulated on the quality of the sound on these recordings.