Benny Goodman Orchestra Featuring Anita O’Day – Jazz Haus

by | Mar 16, 2012 | Jazz CD Reviews

Benny Goodman Orchestra Featuring Anita O’Day – Jazz Haus 101704, 76:07 [3/27/12] [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
(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 Dodgion –  alto sax, flute; Jimmy Wyble – guitar; Red Wootton – bass; John Markham – drums)
Benny Goodman has been a seminal figure in jazz music as a band leader, musician, and composer, from the time he and his band launched the swing era with his August 1935 performance at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles.
Now two decades plus later, he was on the road with a swinging aggregation playing the music for which he became famous. This 1959 radio broadcast, originally for Südwestrundfunk (SWR) Germany, has been resurrected from these music vaults by Jazz Haus and will be released in the U.S. at the end of March as part of the precursor to the 3000 hours of excellent recordings contained in these archives. After the opening of a perfunctory “Let’s Dance”, the band sachets into an up-tempo “Air Mail Special” with Goodman and Red Norvo feeding off each other. Thereafter “Raise The Riff” demonstrates Goodman’s tight arranging skills with Russ Freeman proving he was not out of place with this swing-style group.
One of the real treats of this session is the inclusion of Anita O’Day who is in fine voice on her offerings. O’Day had a vibrato-less, back-beat percussive singing style that was emulated by such jazz singers as June Christie and Chris Connor. She starts off with a smooth version of “Honeysuckle Rose” with an easy transition into “Come Rain Or Come Shine”. When O’Day was with the Gene Krupa band in 1941, she recorded “Let Me Off Uptown” with Krupa’s trumpet star Roy Eldridge. Here she reprises the tune with trumpeter Jack Sheldon, who is no Eldridge, but O’Day still does justice to the interpretation. The audience saved its most warm and enthusiastic responses for O’Day’s rendition of “Not For Me“ and her impeccable scatting on both the Woody Herman war horse “Four Brothers” and a “Blues”.
Reverting back to the band, Goodman leads a quartet composed of himself, Norvo, Freeman and Markham though a couple of old Goodman standbys: “ Body And Soul” and “Memories Of You”. The Ellington classic “Don’t Get Around Much Any More“ is given a luscious treatment that features the always interesting Red Norvo with his delicate touch on the vibes. There are also some tasty contributions from Jimmy Wyble – guitar, Red Wootton – bass and Jerry Dodgion – alto sax. The final medley is comprised of Goodman hits from the swing era, with the leader in the forefront demonstrating that he still had the chops to stay in the game. While not indicated in the tracklist, the band closes out the program with a short but rousing version of Sing! Sing! Sing! led by the drumming of John Markham.
The re-mastered sound is top notch and the band fulfill its promise and delivers a program that bristles with liveliness and excitement.
TrackList: Let’s Dance; Air Mail Special; Raise The Riff; Honeysuckle Rose; Come Rain Or Come Shine; Let Me Off Uptown; Gotta Be This Or That; Body And Soul; Whispering; Medley: Not For Me, Four Brothers, Blues; Breakfast Feud; Memories Of You; Don’t Get Around Much Any More; Ten Bone; Medley: Don’t Be that Way,Stompin’ At The Savoy, Sunny Side Of The Street, In A Mellow Tone, Moonglow, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen.
—Pierre Giroux

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