REVIEW OF ARTIE SHAW AND HIS GRAMERCY 5,
"SIX STAR TREATS," JASMINE ( UK ) JASBOX 20-5
Fans of Artie Shaw and His Gramercy 5 should welcome a new 5-CD release from Jasmine ( UK ), "'Six Star Treats': The Complete Commercially Released Recordings."
According to Jasmine publicity, "Presented here, spanning a period from 1940 to 1954, are what are thought to be ALL the commercially released titles by the band." True, the threshold of the subtitle, "The Complete Commercially Released Recordings," is met through the 1940-45 Victor and RCA Victor recordings, the 1949-50 Decca singles, and the 1953-54 Bell, Clef, and Verve releases.
The sound is mostly very good.
As Jasmine's website proclaims, "With bonus tracks that come from The Gramercy 5's appearances on radio programmes including very rare performances on the 'Radio Hall Of Fame' and 'Kraft Music Hall' this is the seminal release unsurpassed by any other."
The five 1949 Thesaurus Gramercy 5's are here, too. But they might as well have also included No Name Blues, of undetermined 1940-41 origin; Cross Your Heart, broadcast from the Hollywood Palladium on January 21, 1941; and Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?, aired from the same venue the following night.
Actually, what would have really made this unique would have been if Jasmine was able to secure release rights from the Library of Congress for a radio broadcast made by Shaw's small group at 11:30pm on October 16, 1953 from The Embers in New York City, and recently restored (call no. NBC Radio Collection RGA 2058 A2) from what was reportedly a broken acetate.
I must state some minor quibbles. First, I personally don't care for the title (maybe it was supposed to be like the old Victor 78 set, "Four Star Favorites," or is a take-off on one of the group's introductions from the 1945 "Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands" shows). Surely, using one of the tune names as the title for this set would have been more distinctive, such as I've Got a Crush On You or Hop, Skip and Jump or even Don't Take Your Love From Me (in what is a supremely beautiful rendition). At least they didn't call it Sunny Side Up and make a cover with six eggs frying in a pan - ha-ha!
Second, the cover image was appropriated from the 1959 RCA Camden LP, "Artie Shaw Swings Show Tunes," but that should have been saved for -- what else? -- a compilation of show tunes played by the Shaw band, one of their specialties. For this Gramercy 5 release, it would have been more appropriate to use, for example, the light-hearted cover from the 1956 RCA Victor LP, "Artie Shaw and His Gramercy 5" (the one with black derbies placed atop mannequin heads). In fact, the photos used in the booklet (other than being Shaw) weren't the most appropriate which could have been chosen, and the liner notes didn't need to trace Shaw's entire career, just that of his Gramercy 5s.
Big Band Library rating: VERY GOOD
REVIEW OF SY OLIVER,
"THE ORIGINAL ARRANGEMENTS OF JIMMIE LUNCEFORD IN HI-FI," LONE HILL JAZZ ( SP ) LHJ10336
Among Sy Oliver's many recordings for Decca in 1950 were quite a few tunes which he originally arranged for Jimmie Lunceford's band. Eight of them were gathered for a 10" Decca LP, "For Dancers Only" (DL 5296); in 1957, five additional songs were recorded to expand the disc to 12" (DL 8616) and give it a new title, "The Original Arrangements of Jimmie Lunceford in Hi-Fi."
Interestingly, with this latter album Decca aimed to give direct competition to Capitol Records, where producer David Cavanaugh suggested that Billy May, a fan of the old Lunceford two-beat, record a tribute, "Jimmie Lunceford in Hi-Fi," to mark 10 years since Lunceford's death. The Capitol dates were held on June 15 (which happened to be a Saturday), 16 (a Sunday), and 18, 1957; Decca got Oliver in the studio on August 16, 1957.
Not only did Capitol boast that their project was done with the approval of the Lunceford estate, but -- apart from a "full-dimensional" stereo which, to my ears, was not yet fully perfected -- May's boasted the participation of Lunceford alumni Trummy Young, Willie Smith, Joe Thomas, and Dan Grissom.
However, there was nothing at all wrong with the Sy Oliver performances - his band was great, too, including (with variation between the 1950 and '57 personnel) former Lunceford men Paul Webster, Eddie Wilcox, and Jimmy Crawford, not to mention his own catchy and inimitable vocalizing. Decca's engineers captured a good sound, still evident on this Lone Hill Jazz reissue. I could listen to those records over and over!
Lone Hill Jazz has also done an attractive job replicating the actual cover and including the original liner notes.
Were the May Capitol sides not already on CD, this might have been a musically-valid pairing. Due to space limitations, three of the fifteen songs from May's record were left off. But since all fifteen were easily available [ see the June 2007 "Big Band News" ], Lone Hill Jazz should have chosen another path. I suppose they could have collected the original Lunceford recordings and put them together with Oliver's, sort of a "then and now" approach. Even better, how about Oliver's Lunceford music joined with his "Sentimental Sy" Tommy Dorsey tribute, recorded in stereo for Dot in 1958? That LP deserves to be released on CD!
Big Band Library rating: GOOD
REVIEW OF EDGAR SAMPSON, "SAVOY STOMP," MONTPELLIER ( UK ) MONTCD 047
Don't certain CD labels pay attention to what nice work their competitors do? Don't they care what others have already done or plan? Evidently, Montpellier doesn't on either count.
It's commendable that Montpellier has put the twelve instrumentals from Edgar Sampson's 1957 Coral LP, "Swing Softly Sweet Sampson," on CD. The problems began when they chose to call the album "Savoy Stomp," inviting confusion with Van Alexander's 1959 Capitol LP of the same name. Not only that, but they decided to include twelve of those Billy May Lunceford Capitols (that makes the third time that music has been put on CD in about a year). Enough is enough!
Sampson did record three other songs under his own name, on May 25, 1939 for Vocalion: Don't Try Your Jive On Me, Pick Your Own Lick, and Sly Mongoose. The latter was, admittedly, never issued at all, but could copies of the first two have been located? If not, Sampson's Coral LP could have stood alone, with its correct title. Or I would have suggested pairing it with, how about, Sauter-Finegan's 1958 RCA Victor LP, "Memories of Miller and Goodman," a "Living Stereo" recording which has yet to come out on CD.
As with other Montpellier releases, cover artwork is simplistic and liner notes minimal.
Big Band Library rating: POOR
MORE NEW COMPACT DISCS
Louis Armstrong, "A Rare Batch of 'Live' Satch," Mr. Music MMCD-7015 [ 1943 ].
Bob Eberly, "Tender Love Songs," Flare ( UK ) ROYCD276 [ = his Grand Award LP plus
select 1950s singles ].
Maynard Ferguson, "Octet," Universal 6857 [ = the 1955 EmArcy LP MG-36021 ].
Dizzy Gillespie, "The Cool World," Universal 6867 [ = the 1964 Mal Waldron movie score,
previously available as a 1996 Polygram "2 LPs on 1 CD" with "Dizzy Goes Hollywood" ].
Benny Goodman, "'When Swing Was King,'" Mr. Music MMCD-7014 [ 1936-39 airchecks ].
Glen Gray, "casa loma in hi-fi!," Collectables 6767 [ = 1956 Capitol LP W-747 ].
---, "Swingin' Decade: Sounds of the Great Bands of the 40's," Collectables 6768
[ = 1959 Capitol LP ST-1289 ].
Bobby Hackett, "The Most Beautiful Horn in the World / Night Love," Collectables 7881
[ = 1962 Columbia LPs CL 1729 / CS 8529 + CL 1895 / CS 8695 ].
Lionel Hampton, "Swiss Radio Days, Volume 18," TCB ( Sw ) 2182 [ the second part of a
1953 performance in Basel, Switzerland ].
Stan Kenton, "'Live' From Birdland," Mr. Music MMCD-7016 [ 1953, 1958 ].
Fats Waller, "Complete Recorded Works, Volume 5," JSP ( UK ) 949 [ 4-CDs; 1938-40 ].
SELECT LIST OF TOUR ITINERARIES
Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes: Jul. 27, Hanover Theatre for the Performing
Arts, Worcester, MA.
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Bill Tole, Jul. 4, Avon, CO [ with The Pied Pipers ].
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow, Jul. 6, Place des Arts, Montreal,
PQ, Canada [ "Battle of the Bands" with The Glenn Miller Orchestra ].
Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke, Jul. 10, Calumet, MI; Jul. 12, Holt, MI;
Jul. 30, Boston, MA.
Herb Jeffries (Ellington '39-'42) with Gerald Wilson (Lunceford '39-'42) and 18-pc orchestra, Jul. 12,
Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival, Temecula, CA.
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien, Jul. 2, Fredericton Playhouse,
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; Jul. 3, Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New
Brunswick, Canada; Jul. 5, Ottawa National Art Center, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada;
Jul. 6, Place des Arts, Montreal, Canada; July. 7, Salle Albert-Rousseau, Quebec City,
Canada; Jul. 9, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Jul. 10, Oakwood Village
Shopping Center, Oakwood Village, OH; Jul. 11, Foellinger Theater, Fort Wayne, IN;
Jul. 13, Iowa Central Community College, Ft. Dodge, IA; Jul. 15, Manitoba Centennial
Centre, Winnipeg, Canada; Jul. 16, Casino Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada;
Jul. 17, TCU Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; Jul. 18, Francis Winspear
Centre Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Jul. 19, Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary,
Alberta, Canada; Jul. 21, Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada;
Jul. 22, Royal Theatre, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; Jul. 24, Arlene Schnitzer
Theater, Portland, OR; Jul. 29, Redlands Bowl Amphitheatre, Redlands, CA; Jul. 31,
Lincoln Park, Tracy, CA.
Russ Morgan Orchestra directed by Jack Morgan, Jul. 13, Indiana Roof Ballroom,
WISHING YOU A HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Louie Bellson, drummer (Fio Rito '42; Goodman '42 and '46; T. Dorsey '47-'49; James '51; Ellington '51-'53; Dorsey Bros.
'55-'56), b.Jul. 6, 1924. [ NOTE: official website, Wikipedia say Jul. 6 but Feather, Grove, Kinkle, Britannica say Jul. 26 ]
Doc Severinsen, trumpeter (Fio Rito '45; Barnet '47-'49; S. Donahue '48; T. Dorsey '50), b.Jul. 7, 1927.
Rusty Dedrick, trumpeter (Stabile '38-'39; Norvo '39-'41; Thornhill '41-'42 and '46-'47; McKinley '46),
b.Jul. 12, 1918.
Roc Hillman, guitarist (Dorsey Bros. '34-'35; J. Dorsey '35-'40; Kyser '40-'47) - composer, b.Jul. 13, 1910.
Buddy Moreno, vocalist (Griff Williams '40?; Jurgens '40-'42; James '43-'44), b.Jul. 13, 1912.
Larry O'Brien, trombonist (T. Dorsey Orch. '61-'65) - leader (Miller Orch. '81-'83 / '88- ), b.Jul. 15, 1933.
Danny Bank, saxophonist (Barnet '42-'44; Goodman '45-'46; Whiteman '47; Shaw '49-'50), b.Jul. 17, 1922.
Kay Starr, vocalist (Crosby '39; Miller '39; Venuti '39-'42; Barnet '43-'45), b.Jul. 21, 1922.
Gloria DeHaven, singer (Savitt '42) - actress, b.Jul. 23, 1925.
Ronny Lang, saxophonist (Ennis '47; Brown '49-'90? [ not continuous ]), b.Jul. 24, 1927.
Peter Duchin, son of Eddy Duchin and pianist - bandleader, b.Jul. 28, 1937.
Hank Jones, pianist (Kirk '45; Shaw '53-'54; Goodman '56-'58), b.Jul. 31, 1918.
Evelyn Keyes, 91, actress - 8th wife of Artie Shaw (m.1957, separated, div.1985), d.Jul. 4, 2008,
Bobby Durham, 71, drummer (Ellington '67), d.Jul. 7, 2008, lung cancer.
Gerald Wiggins, 86, pianist (Armstrong '43 + Aug. 1, '56 RCA Victor session), d.Jul. 13, 2008, "had been
in poor health for months."
Jo Stafford, 90, vocalist (T. Dorsey '40-'42; Weston), d.Jul. 16. 2008, "congestive heart failure."
Joe Beck, 62, guitarist (Rich '73), d.Jul. 22, 2008, "complications of lung cancer."
Thomas Francis Dorsey III, 77, Tommy Dorsey's second child, d.Jul. 24, 2008.
Norman Dello Joio, 95, composer (wrote a Concerto for Clarinet for Shaw '49), d.Jul. 24, 2008.
Johnny Griffin, 80, tenor saxophonist (Hampton '45-'47?), d.Jul. 25, 2008.
Lee Young, 91, drummer (Waller '37; Hampton '40; Goodman '47), d.Jul. 31, 2008.
NEW IN-PRINT AND / OR ONLINE
Jon Burlingame, "Get Szathmary! Irving Szathmary, Get Smart's Forgotten Composer,"
filmmusicsociety.org, Jul. 21, 2008 [ states that Szathmary arranged tunes for
Goodman '34 / Shaw '36 / Whiteman '37-'39 / Teagarden '40 ].
Roger Catlin, "Jazz Up Summertime With Turner Classic's Big-Band Movie Marathon,"
[ Hartford, CT ] Courant / courant.com, Jul. 2, 2008.
Tony Eaton, "What's New?," [ The Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight Serenader,
Number 318 / 3rd Edition 2008, pp.8-9 [ reports that Hunton Downs' Glenn Miller book
has been delayed "in order to incorporate new information, hitherto totally embargoed,
that had unexpectedly come to light in the States." ].
Geoffrey Himes, "Keeping Cab's Jive Alive," Baltimore [ magazine ], Jul. 2008 [ quoting
one of Cab's daughters, Camay Murphy, 81, and his grandson, C. Calloway Brooks ].
Bill Schaaf, "The Glenn Miller Festival . . . Rousing Success for the 33rd Time," [ The Glenn
Miller Society ] Moonlight Serenader, Number 318 / 3rd Edition 2008, pp.10-11.
Ben Sisario, "Syracuse University Gets An Oldies Collection," New York Times, Jul. 2,
2008 [ the 200,000-disc stock of Morty Savada's "Records Revisited" store has been
donated to the University's Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive; it was said to be the
"second-largest collection of 78s in the United States, after the Library of Congress’s." ].
Roland Taylor, "Miller's Mighty Service Band: The ensemble in focus," [ The Glenn Miller
Society ] Moonlight Serenader, Number 318 / 3rd Edition 2008, pp.2-5 [ a continuing
chronological study, now up to March 1944 ].
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