Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Harry James Years 1
Genres: Jazz, Pop
The incredible momentum of the peak Benny Goodman Orchestra is on full display with these classic cuts from 1937 and 1938. In Harry James, Goodman had a bona fide trumpet star, one to spur him to great heights. The band me... more »
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The incredible momentum of the peak Benny Goodman Orchestra is on full display with these classic cuts from 1937 and 1938. In Harry James, Goodman had a bona fide trumpet star, one to spur him to great heights. The band meanwhile was honed to a fine edge and was the perfect vehicle to drive Fletcher Henderson's propulsive arrangements. Many of Goodman's most famous studio recordings appear on this collection: "I Want to Be Happy," "Sugarfoot Stomp," "Sing, Sing, Sing" (a Jimmy Mundy arrangement heard here six months before the legendary Carnegie Hall version), and a pair of cuts from Gene Krupa's final Goodman session, "Don't Be That Way" and "One O'Clock Jump." This is Goodman's big band at a commercial and artistic apex, and a brilliant example of its singular alchemy: that ability to sound both supremely rehearsed and spectacularly fresh simultaneously, which, not coincidentally, was also Goodman's greatest asset as a clarinet soloist. --Marc Greilsamer
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Right People, Right Place, Right Time
Marc Dolan | Brooklyn, NY USA | 12/30/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to call any recording essential, but if you like swing, this is a great one to have. It documents the moment when Harry James, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, and Fletcher Henderson were all in the same place making music together. Most famously, they recorded "Sing Sing Sing" (the original two-sided single of which is on this collection), one of the most artistically executed #1 singles that has ever shown up on the American charts. The rest of this collection may not be as great as that incredible high point, but much of it is nearly as good, and four or five of the songs have alternate takes here, including "Camel Hop," my personal favorite among the more neglected singles."
A Whole Lot of Talent Swing Nicely Indeed!
Doug - Haydn Fan | California | 02/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is actually a 2 CD set - make sure if you order it you are getting two CDs and notes! You will be rewarded with a terrific purchase, one of the greatest of all the Swing bands at the height of its glory days.
In January 1937 a new trumpet player, just 21, joined up with the Goodman Band. At that point in time the band and master arranger Fletcher Henderson had been working together for two years, and in truth the music needed something new and vital - the new trumpet player Harry James was just the ticket! He brought enormous excitement and glamour and then some, and in a remarkable way James translates his style and energy to the whole ensemble. Redoubtable jazz critic Otis Ferguson traveled for a while with the band - his description of the brass section with James is one of the greatest eulogies of any jazz musicians. After a paragraph of hurrahs, Ferguson summed up their playing as follows,
"(It) Represents a combination of technical severity with unaffected joy in performance that has never been achieved in the music of any people."
This two CD set captures the recordings made by the band from January 14, 1937, through December 23, 1938. The sources were excellent original metal parts and test pressings preserved in the BMG Music/RCA Records vaults, and the transfers, made in 1996, are all newly done to digital using a Cedar machine to help reduce some of the extraneous noise.
Highpoint of this set, and possibly the highlight of all Swing music, "Sing, Sing, Sing", rockets away into jazz history with a series of solos by Goodman, Musso on tenor sax, and James playing a remarkable horn solo free of any harmonic restrictions, and all this then carried away to a shattering climax under Krupa's mad drum solo. Jimmy Mundy 'arranged' all this, but in truth it's a bit of a group effort! Not surprising, given the title, this number initially was a vocal for Helen Ward, but Gene Krupa began taking over and eventually the piece morphed into the absolute monster it became.
In March of 1938 Gene Krupa left the band, and along with new drummer Dave Tough the band picked up Bud Freeman; both had played with Goodman in Chicago. Their arrival ushered in new freer arrangments by Edgar Sampson, which would, after the band settled in, produce some nice music, though nothing quite like the previous year. A few months later Tough is in full flight, and leads a rousing conclusion in "Bumble Bee Stomp". The second CD finishes up with the December 1938 sessions, and mark the end of Harry James' association with the Goodman band. The first few cuts on the second side are out of chronological order, so check the notes.
Currently Amazon allows you to sample the first of the two CDs - that should give a good idea of what's here. Most of the arrangements on the second side are good without being outstanding, but the best ones on the first CD are sensational, and here, too, some alternative takes are offered. There are full notes listing times and who plays in each selection, usually blocked off in sessions. Fine notes by Loren Schoenberg make this a winning purchase.
It's not difficult listening to this ultra rich collection of great soloists - all you would need to make it perfect is a mild Sunday strech of highway along the California coast and a '36 Buick Roadmaster Convertible, the first year for that legendary marque."