A Superb Compilation
Michael D. Robbins | San Antonio, Texas United States | 11/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Isham Jones Orchestra of the early 1930s was the finest all-around dance orchestra, ever. The band combined rich ensembles, great intonation, outstanding arrangements, perfect dance tempi, and more than a touch of hot jazz, to produce a sound that has never been equaled. Isham Jones, who was also a major songwriter and a competent saxophonist, was second only to Paul Whiteman in importance among white pre-swing bandleaders.This CD covers the period from late 1929 until early 1931. The band was not as large as it would become later in the decade, but it already had the characteristic rich Isham Jones sound. In a holdover from the 1920s style, the rhythm section was still tuba driven (except on "Nina Rosa," which features a string bass), and was somewhat stiffer than it would be a few years later when it had both tuba and bass. The band's exact personnel is uncertain.There were two singers. Eddie Stone, who projected an appealing personality, sang on "Miss Hannah" and "There's a Wah-Wah Girl in Agua Caliente," both of which show the band's hot side, and on several other cuts. The other vocalist (perhaps Frank Sylvano) was a mediocre high-pitched tenor. The disk contains several of Isham Jones's own compositions, including "What's the Use," "Spain," "You're Just a Dream Come True," and "Swingin' Down the Lane." It also includes a true landmark recording, the 1930 version of "Star Dust" that made the song popular. The song had been around for several years, and had been recorded by others as a hot item. Jones and arranger Victor Young turned it into a romantic ballad.The designation "Volume 1" on this disk raises the hope that there will be future volumes dedicated to this outstanding orchestra. The band was already superb, and it got even better as the 1930s progressed."