Monday, November 14, 2005

Big Banding, part 6

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.

Fletcher Henderson, "Under the Harlem Moon," ASV Living Era. You want these 22 sides from 1932-37 because Fletcher Henderson knew talent and Benny Goodman knew a stellar arranger and composer when he saw one, which is why he hired Henderson after Henderson's band broke up.

Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Rex Stewart, Chu Berry, Russell Procope and J.C. Higginbotham are among the players in arrangements sophisticated in the sense that a whole lot of things happen both as a group and solo and it all fits together like Legos, as on "Ain't Cha Glad?" and "Hocus Pocus." "Tidal Wave" is a swing symphony and "Christopher Columbus" and "Chris and his Gang" are positively Ellingtonian. Some of the soloing presages the avant-garde and bassists John Kirby and Israel Crosby do standout work holding things together. Great stuff that by no means sounds dated.

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

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