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Knockin’ on Wood; His 44 finest 1933-1958

RETROSPECTIVE RTS4362 [78:42 + 79:58]

DISC ONE (1933-1945)

Red Norvo & his Quintet/Quartet

1. Knockin’ On Wood (2:50)

2. Hole In The Wall (2:22)

3. In A Mist (Bixology) (3:13)

Hoagy Carmichael & his Orchestra

4. Moon Country (3:12)

Red Norvo & his Swing Septet/Octet/Sextet

5. Old-Fashioned Love (2:57)

6. Tomboy (2:37)

7. Bughouse (2:44)

8. Blues In E Flat (2:55)

9. Decca Stomp (3:01)

10. I Got Rhythm (2:44)

Red Norvo & his Blackhawk Orchestra

11. A Porter’s Love Song To A Chambermaid (3:14)

12. Smoke Dreams (3:05)

13. Remember? (3:14)

14. Jivin’ The Jeep (3:04)

Teddy Wilson & his Quartet

15. Just A Mood (Blue Mood) (6:49)

16. Honeysuckle Rose (3:09)

Red Norvo & his Orchestra

17. Some Like It Hot (2:52)

Red Norvo & his Overseas Spotlight Band

18. Seven Come Eleven (4:16)

19. Flying Home (4:15)

20. N.R.C. Jump (4:53)

Edmond Hall & his All Star Quintet

21. Smooth Sailing (3:45)

Benny Goodman & his Sextet

22. Slipped Disc (3:14)

Slam Stewart & his Quintet

23. Slammin’ The Gate (2:49)


DISC TWO (1945-1958)

Red Norvo and his Selected Sextet

1. Hallelujahl! (3:54)

Red Norvo and his Orchestra

2. The Man I Love (4:29)

3. A Ghost Of A Chance (3:52)

Woody Herman & his Woodchoppers

4. Igor (2:42)

5. I Surrender, Dear (3:29)

Red Norvo and his Septet

6. I’ll Follow You (2:30)

7. Bop! (3:01)

Red Norvo & his Orchestra

8. Twelfth Street Rag (2:21)

Red Norvo & his Trio

9. Swedish Pastry (2:26)

10. Night And Day (4:06)

11. September Song (3:30)

12. Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart (3:25)

Red Norvo & his Trio

13. Lover, Come Back To Me (3:03)

14. Bernie’s Tune (5:30)

Joe Morello & his Sextet

15. Tenor Blooz (4:59)

Red Norvo & his Sextet

16. Just A Mood (Blue Mood) (6:49)

Red Norvo & his Quintet

17. First Things First (3:31)

18. I’m Confessin’ That I Love You (3:19)

Red Norvo & his Quintet

19. Mountain Greenery (3:16)

Red Norvo & his Orchestra

20. Britt’s Blues (5:41)

Red Norvo & his Orchestra

21. Garden Of The Moon (3:00)


One of the most talented instrumentalists in jazz, Red Norvo was a virtuoso and a musical pioneer. During the Swing era he created a role for the xylophone as a solo instrument, producing new sounds and dimensions to the music. Red was nimble and creative with the mallets, and pushed the boundaries with light, imaginative solos. Born in 1908 as Kenneth Norville, Red grew up in Beardstown, Illinois, where he learned to play the piano. During his teen years he switched to the marimba and xylophone and enjoyed a short career touring with a marimba band, before being hired by Paul Whiteman for his orchestra. This 2-disc set features 44 tunes with Red performing with an assortment of jazz groups.

Disc One features 23 of his recordings dated between 1933 and 1945. Red was an able songwriter and composed the earliest song, Knockin’ On Wood, and recorded it in April 1933 with his Quintet. This short ambling number features clarinetist Jimmy Dorsey and solos by Red and boogie-woogie pianist Fulton McGrath. Red and his Swing Octet recorded Bughouse in January 1935 for the Columbia label, and the group swings through a tight arrangement showcasing solos all around, including trombonist Jack Jenney and Chu Berry on tenor sax. Red married vocalist Mildred Bailey in 1933, and the two were known as “Mr. and Mrs. Swing”, performing together for many years. Mildred is featured on A Porter’s Love Song To A Chambermaid and Smoke Dreams, both recorded with Red and his Blackhawk Orchestra. In 1943 Red switched to the vibraphone and recorded a Benny Goodman tune, Seven Comes Eleven (Roast Turkey Stomp), with his Overseas Spotlight Band during a V-Disc session in New York. This energetic number features synchronized trills by clarinetist Aaron Sachs and Flip Phillips on tenor sax, with Red providing a soaring countermelody. Disc Two presents 21 selections recorded between 1945 and 1958. One of the best is Hallelujah!, composed by Vincent Youmans. The song appeared in the 1927 musical Hit The Deck and again on film in 1955. Originally a march, Red and his Selected Sextet cranked up the tempo for this tune and created a rousing celebration at break-neck speed, with amazing solos from Red, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, and pianist Teddy Wilson, and a surprising verse of group scat, sung acapella. Another highlight is Zing! Went The Strings of My Heart, recorded by Red in 1950 with guitarist Tal Farlow and Charlie Mingus on bass. Red’s technique and precision brought out the best in whoever played with him, and this tune is a prime example of three outstanding musicians having a good day together.

A 16- page booklet is included, with notes and comments by Digby Fairweather. This music was compiled by Ray Crick. Martin Haskell performed the audio restoration and remastering. The sound quality is very good with the exception of September Song, which has some strange reverb effects from Tal Farlow’s guitar and possibly Red’s vibraphone.


Bruce McCollum

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