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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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BILLY BUTTERFIELD

What's New? His 24 Finest, 1938-59

RETROSPECTIVE RTR 4203

 

 

Bob Crosby and His Orchestra
1 What's New?
2 Mournin' Blues
Artie Shaw and His Orchestra
3 Stardust
Mel Powell & His Orchestra
4 When Did You Leave Heaven?
Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra
5 Moonlight In Vermont (With Margaret Whiting)
Brad Gowans and His New York Nine
6 Poor Butterfield
7 Carolina In The Morning
8 Jazz Me Blues
Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra
9 A Ghost Of A Chance
10 Moten Stomp
11 More Than You Know
12 Stormy Weather
13 Afternoon In August
Axel Stordahl and Orchestra
14 Nevertheless (With Frank Sinatra)
Lou Stein and His Six For Kicks
15 Wailin' The Blues
Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra
16 I've Got A Crush On You
17 Little White Lies
18 C“te D'azur
"Gus Hoo" and His Dixie Stompers
19 I'm An Old Cowhand
Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra
20 Someday You'll Be Sorry (With Lee Wiley)
Billy Butterfield and His Jazz Band
21 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
22 I'll Be A Friend With Pleasure
Ray Conniff and Orchestra
23 All The Things You Are
24 Beyond The Blue Horizon
rec. 1938-59 [78:42]

 

Billy Butterfield (1917-1988) is fully deserving of the tribute of a two decade retrospective salute. From the start, in 1938 with Bob Crosby's band, he displays enviable facility and a rich, warm bravura during a long solo outing on What's New? Part Armstrong, part Harry James and part Bunny Berigan derived, this 21 year old emerged from big bands to take a hallowed place in front line orchestras and, in time, his own band.

A little older now, Butterfield sets the scene with magisterial confidence for leader Artie Shaw's solo on Stardust with its string laden ensemble. He adds his chops to Margaret Whiting's classic vocal on Moonlight in Vermont and one can appreciate his small group credentials when teamed in trombonist Brad Gowans's tight little New York Nine, a band with a Condon style rhythm section including Joe Bushkin, Jack Lesberg and Dave Tough. Like quite a few big name soloists, Butterfield chose to take a Big Band on the road at precisely the wrong time, 1946. Economics were against him but the band generated some heat and left behind some good sides. His solo on More Than You Know is a narrative of considerable beauty and he's just as good when muted, as he is on Stormy Weather, which gets the tempo doubling treatment.

Interesting things however were going on in the band. Afternoon in August shows a much stripped down orchestration and some intriguing filmic touches and advanced harmonies, none of which limits or inhibits Butterfield's rich toned solo. He provides his soloistic skill in support of Sinatra as a member of Alex Stordahl's orchestra in 1950; here Sinatra sounds more darkly baritonal than usual. There are finger snappers and taut blues outings elsewhere. There's a big effects laden echo on the solo feature C“te D'azur, an easy listening track if ever there was one and Down Home on the Range guffaw attends I'm An Old Cowhand. `Gus Hoo' and His Dixie Stompers, hiding behind a phalanx of funny names (`Mad Milt Summerblouse' etc) contained some great musicians - Lou McGarity, Milt Hinton, Don Lamond and of course Butterfield himself, the `Gus Hoo' (geddit?) bandleader

The later tracks include accompaniment to the sexy Lee Wiley, an echt-Eddie Condon workout on 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans and a rather Louis Prima inspired final track, Beyond The Blue Horizon. These well transferred 24 tracks reflect a wide range of Butterfield's studio work over the two decades charted. Digby Fairweather's sleeve notes are entertaining. This is a fine introduction to Butterfield.

Jonathan Woolf

See also review by Tony Augarde

 



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