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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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BOBBY HACKETT

More Ingredients

Retrospective RTR 4208

 

 

Bobby Hackett & His Orchestra
1. Embraceable You
 
Benny Goodman & His Orchestra
2. I'm Coming, Virginia
 
Eddie Condon & His Windy City Seven
3. Ja-Da
 
Bobby Hackett & His Orchestra
4. Clarinet Marmalade
5. Singin' The Blues
6. But Not For Me
 
Miff Mole & His Nicksieland Band
7. I Must Have That Man
 
Bobby Hackett & His Orchestra
8. With A Song In My Heart
 
Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars
9. Ain't Misbehavin'
 
Axel Stordahl & Orchestra (With Frank Sinatra)
10. I've Got A Crush On You
 
The Bobby Hackett Quintet
11. Royal Garden Blues
12.What A Difference A Day Made
13. Fidgety Feet
 
Joe Bushkin & His Swinging Strings (With Lee Wiley)
14. Oh, Look At Me Now!
 
Jackie Gleason & His Orchestra
15. I Can't Get Started
 
Soft Lights And Bobby Hackett
16. That Old Black Magic
 
Bobby Hackett & His Jazz Band
17. New Orleans
18. Big Butter And Egg Man
19. I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plan
 
Bobby Hackett & His Orchestra
20. Wolverine Blues
21. Lazy Mood
22. The Continental
 
Bobby Hackett & Jack Teagarden
23. Mama's Gone, Goodbye
24. 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
 
Bobby Hackett & His Quartet
25. You Stepped Out Of A Dream
26. Swing That Music
 
Bobby Hackett & His Orchestra
27. Aloha Oe

 

When Louis Armstrong was asked which was the better trumpeter - Billy Butterfield or Bobby Hackett - he replied "Bobby. He got more ingredients". Having recently reviewed a similar disc of recordings by Butterfield, I am intrigued by the similarities between the two men. Both trumpeters had a sweet, mellow tone, and they both straddled the areas between Dixieland and swing - in a way anticipating the "mainstream" style and therefore able to fit into many varied situations. They both fronted big bands which failed to make the big time. And they were firm friends with one another.

One difference between them was that Butterfield doubled on trumpet and flugelhorn, while Hackett specialised on the cornet as well as playing the trumpet. This album opens with Bobby's signature tune, Embraceable You. Then follows I'm Coming, Virginia, his tribute to Bix Beiderbecke recorded at Benny Goodman's famous 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. Hackett repeats Bix's solo verbatim but it seems to me that his tone was slightly less enticing than Beiderbecke's. Yet his choice of notes was often adventurous and he could build engaging solos, as he does on Ain't Misbehavin', where the contrast with Louis Armstrong is instructive. Bobby could play outspokenly but his playing seldom if ever reached Louis' extrovert excesses.

So there is no doubt that Bobby could construct meaningful solos, although he often stayed close to the melody without a great deal of evident improvisation. This is particularly true of such tracks as I Can't Get Started - from a series of recordings with Jackie Gleason's string-laden orchestra. Hackett seems to be there to play the tune beautifully (which he does) but not to play jazz. In old-fashioned vocabulary, you might say that he was often cast as a "sweet" rather than a "hot" player.

But there are hot moments here, especially in the more Dixieland-style tracks, where Hackett imparts elegance to some old warhorses such as Wolverine Blues and Way Down Yonder in New Orleans. Hackett was also an expert accompanist for vocalists, such as Frank Sinatra (track 10) and Lee Wiley (track 14).

Like the Billy Butterfield compilation, this is a useful survey of some of Bobby Hackett's work, although it only takes us up to 1960. The jury is still out as to who was the sweetest cornetist or trumpeter. Bobby Hackett certainly played with refined invention, although I am still inclined to favour Bix Beiderbecke and Ruby Braff. By the way, the spine of my copy of the CD reads "Billy Butterfield - What's New?"

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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