Friday, October 21, 2005

Big Banding, part 4

Here's another in my hunt for good one-disk samplers covering a selection of classic big bands from the '20s, '30s and '40s with decent sound, representative material and a reasonable price.

"Chick Webb & His Orchestra: Stompin' at the Savoy," ASV/Living Era. You want it for the great ensemble playing by a band that in a battle of the bands kicked the Benny Goodman band's behind, and for the great, if short, solos contained within. Check out the Taft Jordan trumpet solo on "Let's Get Together." You can just see people out there on the floor of the Savoy Ballroom cutting a rug, so to speak. This music, often frenetic, was made for dancing, and mostly fast. Less sophisticated than Ellington, yes, but just as swinging. On cuts like "Down Home Rag" and "Go Harlem," your feet will be moving, man. I'm betting everybody was jumping on "Harlem Congo."

That said, the real reason you want this is for the half dozen selections featuring the teen girl singer Chick Webb said was too homely to front his band ... until she opened her mouth to sing. Ella Fitzgerald made dangerous jazz out of ditties like "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" with this group in back of her.

Follow the links to my suggestions for disks featuring the bands of Jay McShann or Glenn Miller or Claude Thornhill or Benny Goodman or Fletcher Henderson or Billy Eckstine or Earl Hines or Andy Kirk.

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