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

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Drop Me Off in HARLEM

A Vintage Jazz Portrait

Retrospective RTR 4247



Lucky Millinder & the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, 4/12/33.

1. Drop Me Off in Harlem

Red Nichols & His Orchestra, 21/6/28.

2. Harlem Twist

Fats Waller & His Buddies 1/3/29.

3. Harlem Fuss

Duke Ellington & His Cotton Club Orchestra, 4/6/30.

4. Jungle Nights in Harlem

Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra, 9/12/32.

5. Underneath the Harlem Moon

Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, 8/6/33.

6. Old Man Harlem

Henry Red Allen & His Orchestra, 28/7/34.

7. There’s a House in Harlem for Sale

Willie the Lion Smith & His Cubs, 23/4/35.

8. Harlem Joys

Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, 18/4/33.

9. Harlem Lullaby

Chick Webb & His Orchestra, 2/6/36.

10. Go Harlem

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, 20/1/36.

11. Echoes of Harlem (Cootie’s Concerto)

Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra, 17/4/34.

12. Christmas Night in Harlem

Jimmie Lunceford & His Orchestra, 14/10/36.

13. Harlem Shout

Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra, 17/7/36

14. It Was a Sad Night in Harlem

Chick Webb & His Orchestra, 1/11/37.

15. Harlem Congo

Joe Marsala & His Delta Four, 4/4/40

16. Reunion in Harlem

Johnny Green & His Orchestra, 28/7/36.

17. Bojangles of Harlem

Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra,22/7/40

18. Harlem Air-Shaft

Eric Ansell & the New Mayfair Orchestra, 6/7/37

19. Harlem in My Heart

Hot Lips Page & His Band, 3/12/40.

20. Harlem Rumbain’ the Blues

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra,17/1/41

21. I Dreamt I Dwelt in Harlem

Chick Webb & His Orchestra, 27/10/37

22. Holiday in Harlem

The Carnival Three, 22/2/45.

23. Harlem Hotcha

David Rose & His Orchestra, 3/3/52

24. Harlem Nocturne

Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra, 2/2/34.

25. Fare Thee Well to Harlem

Personnel :

Too many to list for the various orchestras.

Vocalists are as follows:

Adelaide Hall – track 1

Mildred Bailey – track 9

Jack Teagarden – tracks 12 and 25

Johnny Mercer – tracks 12 and 25

Fred Astaire – track 17

Elizabeth Welch – track 19

Ella Fitzgerald – track 22

This is a rather strange collage of musical performances, the touchstone for inclusion being that each selection has “Harlem” in its title. However, all are entertaining, excellent renditions of the tunes, a good number of which may well be unfamiliar to many, as they were to me, played by well-known musical groups for the most part. Kudos, too, to Martin Haskell for the superb audio restoration and remastering.

Contributing to the enjoyment is the considerable variety in the musical aggregations, which run the gamut from full orchestra with strings behind Woody Herman on Harlem Nocturne to a trio backing Willie “The Lion” Smith on Harlem Joys. They range from the pre-swing period (1928) with Red Nichols & His Orchestra, to the waning days of the swing era (1952) with David Rose & His Orchestra. (There is no attempt, however, to present these chronologically.) Full discographical information for each track is provided in the enclosed booklet.

Further adding to the mix is the inclusion of the vocalists, some with a big talent (Ella Fitzgerald), others a lesser one (Fred Astaire), but all contributing to one degree or another.

Although the playing time is a generous 78 minutes or so, this is not the kind of disc one would put on and listen to the whole way through. Rather, it is to be enjoyed two or three tunes at a time, I believe. I listened to it all the way through the first time, but I enjoyed it more on subsequent auditions when I took it a few tunes at a time.

Probably most aficionados will have many of these performances already in their collections, but most likely several will be missing, and that might be inducement enough to obtain this issue. For those not familiar with these musical groups and/or the selections, this CD will probably have most appeal.

Bert Thompson

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