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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby



Swing It!

Living Era Mono CD AJA 5447



  1. Chinatown, My Chinatown
  2. Dinah
  3. Let’s have a Jubilee
  4. It’s the Rhythm in Me
  5. Worry blues
  6. Swing Me with Rhythm
  7. The Lady in Red
  8. Chasing Shadows
  9. Basin St. Blues
  10. In a little Gypsy Tea Room
  11. Sing, Sing, Sing
  12. Pennies from Heaven
  13. Yes, there Ain’t No Moonlight- So What?
  14. Rosalie
  15. Robin Hood
  16. Angelina
  17. Oh, Marie
  18. Bell-Bottom Trousers
  19. Brooklyn Boogie
  20. Felicia No Capicia
  21. St Louis Blues
  22. A Sunday Kind of Love
  23. All Right, Louie, Drop the Gun
  24. Charley, My Boy
  25. Oh, Babe

The album has 25 tracks recorded between 1933 and 1950 and presented in chronological order. Louis Prima’s career however went well beyond that time, he continued to work regularly until the 1970’s. He died in 1978 after a long illness. His wife Keely Smith joined the band as vocalist in the late 40’s and is heard on this album on tracks 24 & 25.

Prima set out to be a ‘white’ Louis Armstrong and by and large succeeded, despite being a self taught trumpet player. Born 10 years after Louis, he managed to absorb the sound, the phrasing, most of the technique and most of all the stage presence of Armstrong. This made his band a very ‘in demand’ commodity and enabled him to employ many of the best sidemen around to complement his band. On these various tracks the likes of Georg Brunis, Pee Wee Russell, Eddie Miller, Claude Thornhill and Ray Bauduc are all featured and the standard of all the musicians is high throughout.

As with most recordings from this era, the reproduction is variable, but Living Era does a remarkable job on 78 restoration and everything presented here is of reasonable quality. A good deal of discographical research has also been undertaken. Prima was regarded as a ‘pop’ artist during most of his life and has tended to be ignored by the purists, which is a pity because his musicianship is far superior to some they idolise.

Similarly to Louis he went through a bigger band era when that was what the ballrooms demanded, but just like the master, it is his small group work that is the more interesting. What shines through the whole thing is his enthusiasm and ability to ‘strut his stuff’ for the customers. From the sleeve notes I also learned that he was also a great natural comedian and his shows must have been great entertainment. He is a musician who should not be forgotten and this release is therefore timely and welcome.

Don Mather

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