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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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LES BROWN AND HIS
BAND OF RENOWN

Sentimental Journey

Sounds of Yesteryear
DSOY907

 

 

1. My Heart Belongs to Daddy (g)
2. If I Loved You (a)
3. Flip Lid (g)
4. Red Sails in the Sunset (a)
5. In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening (b)
6. Saturday Night Mambo (m)
7. How about You? (h)
8. Kiss of Fire (e)
9. Let It Be (d)
10. You Forgot Your Gloves (f)
11. I'll Be Around (a)
12. Forty Cups of Coffee (j)
13. If You Turn Me Down (b)
14. Sentimental Journey (c)
15. Undecided (c)
16. Montoona Clipper (g)
17. I'll Be Hanging Around (h)
18. Back in Your Own Yard (h)
19. Rough Ridin' (i)
20. Ruby (i)
21. Midnight Sun (i)
22. From This Moment On (i)
23. Sentimental Train (k)
24. Rock and Roll Hop (l)
25. St. Louis Blues Mambo (l)
26. It's All Right with Me (m)
27. Something's Gotta Give (m)

Musicians
(a) Wes Hensel, Don Paladino, Bob Fowler, Bob Higgins, Frank Beach - Trumpet
Dick Noel, Bob Pring - Trombone
Ray Sims - Trombone, vocal (tracks #2, 4)
Stumpy Brown - Bass trombone
Les Brown, Jack Tucker, Abe Aaron - Clarinet, alto sax
Dave Pell - Tenor sax, bass clarinet
Eddie Scherr - Soprano sax, tenor sax, bass sax
Butch Stone - Clarinet, bass sax
Geoffrey Clarkson -Piano
Tony Rizzi - Guitar
Ray Leatherwood -Bass
Jack Sperling -Drums
(b) Same as (a) except
Sol Libero - Clarinet, alto sax (replaces Jack Tucker)
Marty Berman - Tenor sax, bass sax (replaces Eddie Scherr)
Bob Leininger - Bass (replaces Ray Leatherwood)
(c) Same as (b)
(d) Same as (b) except
Rollie Bundock - Bass (replaces Bob Leininger)
Frank Beach - Trumpet (omitted)
(e) Same as (d) except
Jimmy Zito - Trumpet (replaces Bob Higgins)
(f) Same as (e) except
Frank Beach - Trumpet (added)
(g) Same as (f) except
Don Fagerquist - Trumpet (added)
Frank Beach - Trumpet (omitted)
(h) Same as (g)
(i) Wes Hensel, Don Paladino, Stan Stout, Don Fagerquist - Trumpet
Ray Sims, Dick Noel, Bob Pring - Trombone
Stumpy Brown - Bass trombone
Les Brown, Abe Aaron - Clarinet, alto sax
Ronnie Lang - Alto Sax, flute
Dave Pell - Tenor sax, bass clarinet
Marty Berman - Tenor sax, bass sax
Butch Stone - Clarinet, bass sax
Geoffrey Clarkson -Piano
Bobby Gibbons - Guitar
Rollie Bundock - Bass
Jack Sperling - Drums
(j) Same as (i) except
Sol Libero - Alto sax, clarinet (replaces Marty Berman)
Tony Rizzi - Guitar (replaces Bobby Gibbons)
(k) Same as (j) except
Don Trenner - Piano (replaces Geoffrey Clarkson)
Vernon Polk - Guitar (replaces Tony Rizzi)
Bill Richmond - Drums (replaces Jack Sperling)
(l) Same as (k) except
Vernon Friley - Trombone (replaces Dock Noel)
(m) Same as (l) except
Buddy Clark - Bass (replaces Rollie Bundock
 
Vocalists
Lucy Ann Polk - Tracks #1, 5, 9, 11, 13, 18
Ames Brothers - Tracks #14, 15
Mellomen - Track #9
Jud Conlon Rhythmaires - Track #8
Modernaires - Track #17
Jo Ann Greer - Tracks #12, 23
 
Recorded Los Angeles, CA, and New York City, NY, on various dates between February, 1951 and April, 1955.

 

Les Brown founded his "Band of Renown" in 1938 and led it until his death in 2001. It became an eminently danceable band and very popular with the audiences, just as Brown had wanted. That his was a "commercial" band cannot be denied, but at the same time it could and did swing. Evidence of such can be heard in this set of recordings compiled here from the dates listed above.

Brown did not hanker to lead a "jazz" outfit, nor did he crave becoming another Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, or Woody Herman. He wooed no stars from other bands. Perhaps the best known of his sidemen were Dave Pell, who later went on to form his own groups, and Jack Sperling, a well-known big band, TV, and studio drummer, who at one point joined forces with Pell. But the musicians Brown recruited were all first-class, are were his arrangers, so the band's output was not only danceable but extremely listenable. This latter trait is abundantly clear on most of the tracks on this CD. As further testament to the band's musicality, it was chosen as "house" band for several TV shows, including those hosted by Bob Hope, Steve Allen, and Dean Martin, and it performed with many musical celebrities, among them Ella Fitzgerald, Nat "King" Cole, and Frank Sinatra.

As a glance at the tune list will show, most of the titles are familiar ones, the bulk of them being "hit parade" material from the first half of the 1950's. Included, therefore, are dance numbers popular at that time-the mambo (Saturday Night Mambo and St. Louis Blues Mambo) and the tango (Kiss of Fire). However, St. Louis Blues Mambo does not come off, I'm afraid, as it ends up being "corny" with its mambo clich‚s. Elsewhere are other allusions to dancing-a small insertion of several bars in 3/4 time in the middle of the 4/4 time of If I Loved You, or the latin-flavored riff in Montoona Clipper that is reminiscent of the same in Dearest Darlin' and Tequila.

As for the others, the arrangements bring out the tight, crisp ensemble work of the various sections. Thus we can just visualize the dancers taking to the floor when the band launches into My Heart Belongs to Daddy or If I Loved You played in 4/4 time as mentioned above along with the waltz time passage during the guitar solo that might have momentarily stumped the dancers. But the solid brass choruses, complemented by those of the reed section, would have amply compensated them. Brown's bands were clearly very well-rehearsed.

Perhaps the song most associated with the Brown band would be the title one, Sentimental Journey, which they first recorded with Doris Day in 1944 and helped her become established. The version here was recorded Nov. 28, 1951 and is sung by the Ames Brothers, the arrangement following almost exactly that of 1944.

Other than the Modernaires and the Ames Brothers, the rest of the vocalists/vocal groups are probably not too familiar, but all are quite competent. Lucy Ann Polk eschews vibrato, which is somewhat unusual. Jo Ann Greer makes a valiant attempt at outdoing Ella Mae Morse on Forty Cups of Coffee but comes up just a bit short.

This collection illustrates well the state of the Les Brown Band of Renown in the early fifties and why it was so popular. The CD provides a generous seventy-eight plus minutes of fine big band music and is well worth having.

Bert Thompson



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