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



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Benny GOODMAN

& his orchestra,
featuring Anita O'Day

JazzHaus 101704

 

 

1. Let's Dance [00.55], 2. Air Mail Special [5:41], 3. Raise The Riff [4:36], 4. Honeysuckle Rose [3:28], 5. Come Rain Or Come Shine [2:50], 6. Let Me Off Uptown [4:09], 7. Gotta Be This [6:23], 8. Body And Soul [3:26], 9. Whispering [3:57], 10. MEDLEY: Not For Me, Four Brothers, Blues [8:33], 11. Breakfast Feud [4:22], 12. Memories Of You [3:30], 13. Don't Get Around Much Any More [7:39], 14. Ten Bone [5:41], 15. MEDLEY: Don't Be That Way, Stompin'At The Savoy, Sunny Side Of The Street, In A Mellow Tone, Moonglow, Bei Mir Bis Du Scheen [11:04]
Benny Goodman (clarinet & arranger), Anita O'Day (vocals),Russ Freeman (piano), Red Norvo (vibes), Jack Sheldon (trumpet), Flip Phillips (tenor sax), Bill Harris (trombone), Jerry Dogion (flugelhorn), Jimmy Wyble (guitar), Red Wootton (bass), Jack Markham (drums)
rec. live at the Stadthalle Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany on October 15, 1959 [76:07]

 

This disc is one in a series entitled Big Bands Live from new kid on the jazz records block JazzHaus which is making available its huge reservoir of 3000 hours of recordings by over 400 ensembles and soloists which come from the archives of South-West German Radio in Stuttgart, Baden-Baden and Mainz, the earliest dating from 1949. This 1959 concert recorded live at the Stadthalle in Freiburg is one such and is a thrilling rollercoaster white knuckle ride of swinging big band jazz from one of the undisputed kings of swing Benny Goodman. Bringing together some of the greatest names in that world Goodman has here a true dream team of a band that at ten soloists is tight, highly controlled and extremely musical and when you add into this heady mix the superb Anita O'Day this is a disc to savour. Setting the scene the first three tunes are well known staples and then in comes Anita with her beautifully judged Honeysuckle Rose and as always she sings it with a laugh in her voice and a cheeky style, followed by Come Rain Or Come Shine and we hear her scatting as only she could. I wonder what she was wearing for the occasion because in my imaginings she's always wearing that impossibly tight dress that she wore in the best ever jazz film Jazz on a Summer's Day along with the hat with the extra wide brim. Her vocal style was simply unique and her voice a true jazz instrument in a way that few others could ever emulate. She follows this with Let Me Off Uptown in which she has a dialogue with trumpeter Jack Sheldon. It's interesting, though unsurprising how she could lift a tune as she does in Gotta Be This and whether her contribution was large or small she made it hers. Body And Soul opens with a solo from Benny whose wonderfully warm fat tone on clarinet was so very distinctive and this version with contributions from vibes wizard Red Norvo and pianist Russ Freeman make for 3 minutes of jazz heaven. The real highlight for me on the disc is the 3 song medley which gives us back the great Anita for some fabulous singing once again. Ten Bone is great fun in which Flip Phillips and Bill Harris give great solos on tenor sax and trombone. The disc ends with "6 of the best" finishing off with a beautiful rendition of Bei Mir Bis Du Scheen featuring great solos from Benny and the brilliant Jack Markham giving an object lesson on drumming perfection. As the liner note says with complete justification "...these sets spark and crackle with energy even 50 years on."

Steve Arloff



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