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Bing Crosby and Buddies - His 53 Finest. 1930-60
Bing Crosby and colleagues, as above
rec. 1930-60
[79:33 + 79:17]


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1 Gone Fishin’ (Louis Armstrong)
2 Happy Feet (The Rhythm Boys)
3 Dinah (The Mills Brothers)
4 Shine (The Mills Brothers)
5 My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms (The Mills Brothers)
6 Pennies From Heaven (Frances Langford & Louis Armstrong)
7 The Way You Look Tonight (Dixie Lee Crosby)
8 Sweet Leilani (Lani Mcintyre & His Hawaiians)
9 Bob White, Whatcha Gonna Swing Tonight? (Connee Boswell)
10 Small Fry (Johnny Mercer)
11 Mister Crosby And Mister Mercer (Johnny Mercer)
12 Gypsy Love Song (Frances Langford)
13 Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider (The Foursome)
14 An Apple For The Teacher (Connee Boswell)
15 Dolores (The Merry Macs)
16 The Waiter And The Porter And The Upstairs Maid (Mary Martin & Jack Teagarden)
17 Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie (Mary Martin)
18 I’ll Capture Her Heart (Fred Astaire)
19 Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ (Trudy Erwin)
20 Pistol Packin’ Mama (The Andrews Sisters)
21 Swinging On A Star (The Williams Brothers Quartet)
22 Don’t Fence Me In (The Andrews Sisters)
23 My Baby Said “Yes” (Louis Jordan)
24 Mine (Judy Garland)
25 Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive (The Andrews Sisters)
26 Put It There, Pal (Bob Hope)
27 Along The Navajo Trail (The Andrews Sisters)
1 It’s Been A Long, Long Time (Les Paul)
2 I Can’t Begin To Tell You (Carmen Cavallaro)
3 South America, Take It Away (The Andrews Sisters)
4 A Couple Of Song And Dance Men (Fred Astaire)
5 I Still Suits Me (Lee Wiley)
6 Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Al Jolson)
7 The Whiffenpoof Song (Fred Waring & His Glee Club)
8 Busy Doing Nothing (Cedric Hardwicke & William Bendix)
9 Play A Simple Melody (Gary Crosby)
10 Sam’s Song (Gary Crosby)
11 If I Were A Bell (Patty Andrews)
12 Moonlight Bay (Gary Crosby)
13 When You And I Were Young Maggie Blues (Gary Crosby)
14 In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening (Jane Wyman)
15 Watermelon Weather (Peggy Lee)
16 Chicago Style (Bob Hope)
17 Back In The Old Routine (Donald O’connor)
18 Well, Did You Evah? (Frank Sinatra)
19 Now You Has Jazz (Louis Armstrong)
20 True Love (Grace Kelly)
21 Brazil (Rosemary Clooney)
22 Fancy Meeting You Here (Rosemary Clooney)
23 You Came A Long Way From St. Louis (Rosemary Clooney)
24 Muskrat Ramble (Louis Armstrong)
25 The Preacher (Louis Armstrong)
26 Way Down Yonder In New Orleans (Louis Armstrong)

Note that the title of the album is ‘Bing Crosby and Buddies’, so if you’re after Der Bingle’s velvet voiced solo efforts you’ll have to seek elsewhere. If, however, you would like to (re)acquaint yourself with his many collaborations on disc, ones that span here three decades, coming up to the copyright cut-off year of 1960, then come right on in.
We start with the title track, which pitches us straight in to a 1951 session with Louis Armstrong. This is a Retrospective trait, starting with a real biggie and then reverting more academically to a chronological or near-chronological run. Can’t say I’m too bothered; we can all programme our CDs otherwise if we want. Don’t overlook the band behind Bing and Louis, though it’s tempting to do so. In John Scott Trotter’s ‘orchestra’ there sit none other than Red Nichols, Ziggy Elman, Matty Matlock, Babe Russin, and drummer Nick Fatool. We don’t hear much of them, but it gives me a frisson knowing they were there, earning a solid studio buck. Then it’s back to The Rhythm Boys and Paul Whiteman’s band in 1930 (no Bix; Andy Secrest and Charlie Margulis are the trumpeters). There are three tracks with the superb Mills Brothers and not only do we hear their instrumental impressions, we also hear the real thing with contributions from Bunny Berigan, Will Bradley, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Eddie Lang. Like Sinatra after him, Bing had superb taste in instrumental colleagues, and huge – and justified – admiration for them.
One might have thought that the ex-operatic singer Frances Langford might not have been a good match, but actually she was, as she demonstrates in several tracks. Then there is a souvenir of Bing’s wife Dixie Lee, who died of cancer at a tragically young age; also of his son Gary from 1951. We can perhaps overlook the novelty Hawaiian effort with Lani McIntyre though certainly not the classic Johnny Mercer recordings of July 1938 – Small Fry and Mister Crosby and Mister Mercer – nor indeed the all-star band behind them; Secrest again, trombonist Abe Lincoln, pianist Joe Sullivan and on the skins, yes, Spike Jones.
Connee Boswell has remained an influential singer – far more influential than is ever really acknowledged – something that couldn’t in all honesty be said of The Merry Macs or The Foursome, though the former had a jaw-droppingly great band led by Muggsy Spanier noodling away in the background for their pay cheque. Mary Martin naturally appears with The Waiter and the Porter and the Upstairs Maid (jazz fiends please note that Danny Polo is the clarinettist here), and we also encounter stellar brother and sister teams, namely those of Williams and Andrews. One may have feared for the worst when Bing met Louis Jordan but a swinging time was had by all. Fred Astaire and Bob Hope are obvious entrants, the former’s A Couple of Song and Dance Men in particular, one of the sunniest songs ever recorded, but Les Paul and Carmen Cavallaro less so, and therefore all the more welcome.
Al Jolson reprises Alexander’s Ragtime Band with Bing in 1947, and there’s a Dixieland carve-up with Donald O’Connor, courtesy of Matlock’s band. Then we have three of the greatest cuts in a row, all recorded within five days; Well, Did You Evah with Sinatra (I still have my 78), Now You Has Jazz with Louis and the All Stars, and True Love with Grace Kelly. After this we have three cuts with Rosemary Clooney and three with Armstrong, this time fronting Billy May’s orchestra – and trying out Horace Silver’s hit The Preacher, a recording I’d never heard before.
This is a really excellent compilation, balancing old loves with some less well known items. I’m a big fan of the Old Groaner, and I’m a huge fan of these recordings.
Jonathan Woolf

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