Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Mister B. & The Band
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
This CD collects 27 of Billy Eckstine's Savoy recordings from 1945 and 1946, a period when the singer's band was a major employer of young boppers. Most of the material focuses on Eckstine's distinctive way with popular ba... more »
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This CD collects 27 of Billy Eckstine's Savoy recordings from 1945 and 1946, a period when the singer's band was a major employer of young boppers. Most of the material focuses on Eckstine's distinctive way with popular ballads. His deep, full voice, subtle pitch sense, and distinctive legato phrasing put a personal stamp on standards like "Cottage for Sale," Prisoner of Love," and "In the Still of the Night," while up-tempo tunes such as "I Love the Rhythm in a Riff" offer some forays into scat. Eckstine had been devoted to the advancement of jazz since bringing Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie into the Earl Hines band; when he assembled his own orchestra, it was a revolving door for the most talented of the modernist players, stretching the harmonic and rhythmic language of big band jazz. Fats Navarro and Miles Davis in the trumpet section, Sonny Stitt and Dexter Gordon among the reeds, and drummer Art Blakey would contribute incendiary solos, and they put a harder edge on everything the band played, even the ballads. Bop appears in its pure form on two takes of Gillespie's "Oop Bop Sh'Bam." Eckstine's band was a remarkable achievement while it lasted, though it was undoubtedly doomed from the start by popular taste and the economic realities of the music business. --Stuart Broomer
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An Appreciable Listening Investment
Bill Callaway | Mattoon, Wi United States | 07/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have listened to this CD back-to-back four times! I own several Billy Eckstine CDs, albums and a plethora of "Mr. B" 78's. Yes, I am a Billy Eckstine fan. The re-mastering engineers who put together this ancient Savoy material have done a marvelous job. One can almost imagine himself in the recording studio standing next to Billy Eckstine as his melodious voice croons ballads like "A Cottage for Sale", "Prisoner of Love" and "Time on My Hands". Or if you like good old jump be-bop, you are certian to like Mr. B's treatment of "The Jitney Man", "I Love That Rhythm Riff" and "Jelly Jelly". Like Billy Eckstine's voice, his band is both swinging and melodious. Listen to the 1945 recording of "I Only Have Eyes For You", and you will understand what I mean. As the band begins wrapping up the recording during the final minute, you'll hear an almost heart-pounding subtly escalating crescendo under Mr. B' voice. Although the later material that Billy Eckstine recorded with strings and studio orhestras on the MGM label is good, the recordings he made with his own band are TOPS! Noteable jazz performers on these recordings include Fats Navarro, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon and Miles Davis. My only criticism is that the cd is over too soon, and unless one has more than perfect vision, the liner notes are quite difficult to read. Add "Billy Eckstine, Mister B. And the Band" to your collection. It's an appreciable listening investment."
Nice but wanting...
rwsandqmi | Suitland, MD USA | 12/22/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a lovely release, taken on its own merits. Eckstine is a legendary crooner of first quality and his band is quite accomplished.
Unfortunately for my tastes, the instruments remain too much in support of Mr. B's popular vocals on nearly every song such that the musicians and arrangements threaten to become almost an afterthought. The songs for the most part last only three minutes in a necessary concession to the commercial exigencies of records, jukeboxes and radio play of the time, leaving still less room for the instrumentalists to stretch out.
Further, there is minimal display of the bebop innovations underway in this 1945 recording (noted members of the band like Diz and Bird had departed by the time of this studio session, though others like Dexter Gordon, Fats Navarro, Kenny Dorham and Art Blakey still remained)-- it's mostly straight forward big band arrangements, albeit tastefuly done, reflective of the period.
As previously mentioned, the liner notes are so small to be unreadable, even with a magnifying glass, thus much of the historic perspective is lost. Finally, the last five cuts from the original two album release were omitted from this pressing due to time constraints. As those five were from the Ellington songbook, it is a serious and unfortunate omission to say the least.
Though flawed, this is still a beautiful release as a feature for Mr. Eckstine's timeless standards', swing and blues vocals. As a historical documentation of a groundbreaking band bridging the big band-swing and bebop eras, it's disappointing. That having been said, for its virtues it is still worth owning, and a bargain at the used price. When the band gets a chance to play, they wail, groove and swing with the best of them, and Mr. B CAN really sing."
Best Band in the Land?
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 05/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gene Ammons used to love telling stories about his days with the Billy Eckstein Band, going through the line-up of the musicians who would shape the course of jazz history--once they got tired of holding whole notes for Mr. B on ballads such as "I Apologize." Surprisingly, the actual recordings reveal far more of the musical genius of the accompanying instrumentalists than one might have imagined. Billy was hardly unaware of the talent and musical needs of the men behind him. In fact, the solo space he insisted on giving Ammons, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis may be one of the reasons the band's success with the public, which frankly had come to see Billy, was so limited and brief. This would be a 5-star collection had it included "I Want to Talk About You," the lovely original Eckstein ballad that later was to become recorded on at least 3 occasions by John Coltrane. Because of that omission, I would refer listeners to the Eckstein collection called "Boppin' with Mr. B"."