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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Guard Sessions

Sounds of Yester Year DSOY 838



Session 41
1. Introduction by Martin Block, Tony Bennett
2. Just In Time
3. Conversation: Martin Block, Tony Bennett, Gene Krupa
4. September Song
5. I Left My Heart In San Francisco
6. Conversation: Martin Block, Tony Bennett
7. Big Noise From Winnetka
Session 42
8. Introduction by Martin Block, Tony Bennett, Gene Krupa
9. Dark Eyes
10. Conversation: Martin Block, Tony Bennett
11. Have I Told You Lately
12. Conversation: Martin Block, Tony Bennett
13. April In Paris
14. Conversation: Martin Block, Tony Bennett
15. Flyin' Home
16. Closing Theme
Session 43
17. Introduction by Martin Block, Tony Bennett, Gene Krupa
18. Sometimes I'm Happy
19. Conversation: Martin Block, Gene Krupa
20. I've Got The World On A String
21. Small World
22. Conversation: Martin Block, Tony Bennett
23. Stompin' At The Savoy
Session 44
24. Introduction by Martin Block, Gene Krupa
25. Caravan
26. Conversation: Martin Block, Tony Bennett
27. Sunday
28. Tenderly
29. Conversation: Martin Block, Gene Krupa, Tony Bennett
30. Fascinatin' Rhythm
31. Closing Theme

Tony Bennett - Vocals
Gene Krupa - Drums
Eddie Wasserman - Clarinet, tenor sax, flute
John Bunch - Piano
Dave Pealman - Bass


I was looking forward to this CD because it includes drummer Gene Krupa, one of my childhood heroes. Unfortunately the album something of a disappointment. It contains four radio broadcasts which, as the sleeve-note unashamedly says, "were originally designed as recruiting tools for the American National Guard". This means that the music is continually interrupted by chats designed to encourage young men to sign up for the National Guard ("a vital part of our defence system"). This explains most of the tracks listed above as "Introduction" and "Conversation". These segments may be of historical interest but they are hardly likely to be the sort of thing you will want to hear more than once, if that often.

Nevertheless, the broadcasts are made worthwhile by the contributions of Tony Bennett and the Gene Krupa Quartet. Tony Bennett is a wonderfully relaxed singer, perhaps second only to Perry Como in this regard. Unlike Perry, Tony has always had a jazz inflection in his voice, even though his intonation can be dubious. He has a warm, friendly way of putting a song across which makes him endlessly listenable.

Gene Krupa was the first of the great showmen drummers and he here leads a quartet whose line-up is uncertain but which includes multi-instrumentalist Eddie Wasserman, especially delicate on flute in such tracks as September Song. He even plays the whistling part in Big Noise From Winnetka on the flute.

Gene Krupa propels the quartet along with his usual verve, and there are several instrumental tracks which allow his quartet to show its paces. Krupa is particularly effective in the atmospheric Dark Eyes, one of the staples of his performances, with Wasserman playing tenor sax. And Gene rounds off the album with a showy drum solo on Fascinatin' Rhythm.

No date is given for the recordings but Tony Bennett sings Small World from the Jule Styne musical Gypsy, which was premiered in 1959, so they must postdate that. He also performs I Left My Heart In San Francisco, which became his signature song. By the way, Have I Told You Lately is not the same song as one or perhaps two others which have the same title.

To sum up, this album has some dud moments but, for fans of Krupa or Bennett, it is probably worth getting at budget price.

Tony Augarde

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