Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Drop Me Off in Harlem
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Among big band leaders of the 1930s and 1940s, saxophonist Charlie Barnet stood out for his unswerving devotion to his values, both social and musical. In 1934 his band was the first white group to play at Harlem's Apollo ... more »
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Among big band leaders of the 1930s and 1940s, saxophonist Charlie Barnet stood out for his unswerving devotion to his values, both social and musical. In 1934 his band was the first white group to play at Harlem's Apollo Theatre, and he was devoted to jazz with few concessions to popular taste, making his ensemble an instrument of his arrangers' creativity. This compilation spans 1942-46, an important period when the band achieved its distinctive variation of the rich Ellington style (apparent in three Ellington tunes heard here) and then went on to become the first big band of modern jazz. "The Moose," written by Ralph Burns and a feature for the young pianist Dodo Marmorosa, is a brilliantly shifting harbinger of bebop, while Dennis Sandole's elusive "Dark Bayou" still sounds harmonically fresh. There's much to enjoy here, from the jive and bop vocals by "Peanuts" Holland to the soaring lead trumpet of Al Killian and Barnet's own solo contributions. --Stuart Broomer
A great band in transition
Robert C. Topper | Richardson, Texas | 07/10/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another in this series of Decca reissues, this CD begins with a few cuts which were done in 1942. The Petrillo strike then intervened, and it picks up in late 1943 after Decca settled with the AFM, then extending to mid-1946. This was a period in popular music when the big bands made a transition from being dance bands to stage bands playing a kind of jazz, turning into bop, the public wasn't ready for or just not interested in. As a consequence, the big bands faded as solo vocalists came to the forefront. My preference is for the previous era, and I believe that Barnet did his best work the last couple of years he was with Bluebird. Nevertheless, I can't fault any of the work on this CD, and Kay Starr puts in a couple of fine performances. The appearance of Roy Eldridge on one session is an added bonus. The CD ends with a couple of previously unreleased sides; whoever decided not to release "Lonesome as the Night Is Long" back when it was recorded should have been horsewhipped."
A Sampling from the Forgotten Master
Billyjack D'Urberville | USA | 03/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This largely forgotten figure was the big band master, a clear margin ahead of Miller, Goodman, Ellington, Woody, any of them -- as fine as they were on their best days. Barnet was the coolest, the jazziest, the drivingest, the shrewdest -- an apparent mere humble synthesizer just happy to be there, but I am convinced will be vindicated by time as the master.
My great frustration is what survives of him. There is no goofy movie like the Glenn Miller films to give you a better take on the sound at its prime. There is no late masterpiece like Ellington's His Mother Called Him Bill or Recollections of the Big Band Era, to majestically close with a full properly recorded sound at last. With Barnet, as with old radio, your imagination must do some work. You know there is gold in them thar hills because you have heard Skyliner -- that mad war-cry from outer space that blows a giant hole through the recording technology of the time: the range of the explosion could not be captured, but there is the tell-tale evidence of the crater. And you hear Charlie's now searing, now mellow sax in everything he cut, modulated and perfect and true. But damn! To have been there!
Alas, there are many Barnet collections, none perfect, some better, many worse. This will have to do. Listen to it on as good a system as you can find, and as loud as the room will reasonably take it, and dream.
The essential Charlie Barnet recording.
Richard Frost | San Diego, CA | 12/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The wonderful recording of Skyliner is worth the price alone."