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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Benny Goodman/ Tommy Dorsey/Glenn Miller/Duke Ellington/Harry James/Artie Shaw/Count Basie/Bob Crosby/Charlie Barnet/Jimmie Dorsey/Lionel Hampton/Earl Hines/Woody Herman
Recorded 1932-46
ASV CD AJS 239 (2 CDs) [152'. 25"]

Over the two CDs, the first compiled in 1994, the second five years later, there are 45 tracks of what almost amounts to a history of jazz in the 1930s and 1940s with all the obvious big names from the big bands represented. Swing music was epitomised by Benny Goodman, who became the 'King of Swing'. There are so many obvious hits to choose from, such as 'Take the A train' or 'A String of Pearls' virtual signature tunes for Ellington and Miller respectively, the latter with his famed clarinet-sax sound ('In the Mood' a perfect example), and Basie's jitterbugging 'One O'clock Jump' another all-time classic. But for me the best two tracks are undoubtedly the eight minutes of Goodman and his Orchestra in 'Sing, Sing, Sing' with the amazingly exciting drumming of Gene Krupa (matched only by his peerless 'Caravan' which is regrettably not among these compilations), and the vibraphone playing of Lionel Hampton in 'Flying Home'.

The youthful Peggy Lee (with Benny Goodman), Ella Fitzgerald (with Chick Webb), Judy Garland (with Bob Crosby) and Frank Sinatra (with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey) are featured, so is Bob Crosby in a lively 'Hony Tonk Train Blues' (regrettably without the other side of the original 78rpm, the better double bass number with Bob Taggart in 'Big Noise from Winnetka'). The list of instrumentalists featured is a mouth-watering concoction of all that's best in swing music of the period, saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, pianist Billy Strayhorn, clarinettist/saxophonist Barney Bigard, trumpeter Cootie Williams, and drummer Buddy Rich.

Christopher Fifield

See also review by Don Mather

Tracks: Cherokee / Skyliner (Charlie Barnet). Jumpin' at the Woodside / One O/Clock Jump (Basie). I can't get started (Bunny Berigan). I've got my love to keep me warm (Les Brown). Swing It (Benny Carter). Honky Tonk Train Blues / Swing Mister Charlie (Bob Crosby). Amapola . Besame mucho (Jimmy Dorsey). Boogie Woogie / I'm getting sentimental over you / Opus No.1 / Without a song (Tommy Dorsey). Don't be that way / King Porter Stomp / Roll 'em / Sing Sing Sing / Stompin' at the Savoy / Why don't you do it right? (Benny Goodman). Flying Home / I'm in the mood for swing (Hampton). Body and Soul (Hawkins). Christopher Columbus (Henderson). At the Woodchopper's Ball (Herman). Rosetta (Hines). All or nothing at all / Back Beat Boogie / Ciribiribin (Harry James). Walkin' and Swingin' (Andy Kirk). My Blue Heaven (Lunceford). Amercian Patrol / Chattanooga Choo Choo / In the Mood / A String of Pearls / Tuxedo Junction (Miller). Back Bay Shuffle / Begin the Beguine / Frenesi (Shaw). Sing me a Swing Song (Webb / Fitzgerald).

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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