Chuck Berry – Is On Top (1959)

LPFrontCover1Charles Edward Anderson Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. Nicknamed the “Father of Rock and Roll”, Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive with songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958). Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.

Born into a middle-class African-American family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he was convicted of armed robbery and was sent to a reformatory, where he was held from 1944 to 1947. After his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of the blues musician T-Bone Walker, Berry began performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio. His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955 and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. With Chess, he recorded “Maybellene”—Berry’s adaptation of the country song “Ida Red”—which sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard magazine’s rhythm and blues chart.

Chuck Berry01By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star, with several hit records and film appearances and a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis nightclub, Berry’s Club Bandstand. He was sentenced to three years in prison in January 1962 for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines. After his release in 1963, Berry had several more hits, including “No Particular Place to Go”, “You Never Can Tell”, and “Nadine”. But these did not achieve the same success, or lasting impact, of his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality. In 1972 he reached a new level of achievement when a rendition of “My Ding-a-Ling” became his only record to top the charts. His insistence on being paid in cash led in 1979 to a four-month jail sentence and community service, for tax evasion.

Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.” Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine’s “greatest of all time” lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 and 2011 lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry’s: “Johnny B. Goode”, “Maybellene”, and “Rock and Roll Music”. Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.

Chuck Berry Is on Top is the third studio album by rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry, released in July 1959 on Chess Records, catalogue LP 1435. With the exception of one track, “Blues for Hawaiians,” all selections had been previously released on 45 rpm singles, several of which were double-sided and charted twice. (wikipedia)

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If you had to sweat all of Chuck Berry’s early albums on Chess (and some, but not all, of his subsequent greatest-hits packages), this would be the one to own. The song lineup is exemplary, cobbling together classics like “Maybellene,” “Carol,” “Sweet Little Rock & Roller,” “Little Queenie,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Around and Around,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Almost Grown.” With the addition of the Latin-flavored “Hey Pedro,” the steel guitar workout “Blues for Hawaiians,” “Anthony Boy,” and “Jo Jo Gunne,” this serves as almost a mini-greatest-hits package in and of itself. While this may be merely a collection of singles and album ballast (as were most rock & roll LPs of the 1950s and early ’60s), it ends up being the most perfectly realized of Chuck Berry’s career. (by Cub Koda)

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Personnel:
Fred Below (drums)
Chuck Berry (vocals, guitar)
Bo Diddley (guitar)
Willie Dixon (bass)
Jerome Green (maracas)
Ebbie Hardy (drums)
Johnnie Johnson (piano)
Lafayette Leake (piano)
George Smith (bass)
Jaspar Thomas (drums)
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The Moonglows (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Almost Grown 2.23
02. Carol 2.49
03. Maybellene 2.23
04. Sweet Little Rock & Roller 2.23
05. Anthony Boy 1.54
06. Johnny B. Goode 2.42
07. Little Queenie 2.44
08. Jo Jo Gunne 2.48
09. Roll Over Beethoven 2.25
10. Around And Around 2.42
11. Hey Pedro 1.57
12. Blues For Hawaiians 3.25

All songs written by Chuck Berry

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Bill Haley & The Comets – Haley’s Chicks (1959)

AceOfHeartsFrontCover11Bill Haley & His Comets were an American rock and roll band, founded in 1952 and continued until Haley’s death in 1981. The band was also known as Bill Haley and the Comets and Bill Haley’s Comets (and variations thereof). From late 1954 to late 1956, the group placed nine singles in the Top 20, one of those a number one and three more in the Top Ten. The single “Rock Around the Clock” became the biggest selling rock and roll single in the history of the genre.

Bandleader Bill Haley had previously been a country music performer; after recording a country and western-styled version of Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats “Rocket 88”, a rhythm and blues song, he changed musical direction to a new sound which came to be called rock and roll.

Although several members of the Comets became famous, Bill Haley remained the star. With his spit curl and the band’s matching plaid dinner jackets and energetic stage behavior, many fans consider them to be as revolutionary in their time as the Beatles were a decade later.

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Following Haley’s death, no fewer than seven different groups have existed under the Comets name, all claiming (with varying degrees of authority) to be the continuation of Haley’s group. As of the end of 2014, four such groups were still performing in the United States and internationally.

Bill Haley’s Chicks was the eighth album of rock and roll recordings by Bill Haley & His Comets for Decca Records, Decca 8821. Released in January 1959 and produced by Milt Gabler, the album was the third “theme” album Haley recorded for Decca, following Rockin’ the Oldies (rock and roll versions of standards) and Rockin’ Around the World (rock and roll versions of folk songs). This album is built on the theme of women’s names, with each song being about a different girl. Included on the album is “Skinny Minnie”, which was a major hit for the band in 1958, reaching no.22 on Billboard and no.25 on Cashbox, along with a mixture of originals and cover versions of standards and jazz songs. “Lean Jean”, a song musically and thematically almost identical to “Skinny Minnie”, also charted in 1958, reaching no. 52 on Cashbox. The song “B.B. Betty”, co-written by Bill Haley and released as a Decca 45 single, featured a solo vocal by Haley’s steel guitar player, Billy Williamson. (by wikipedia)

Oh yes, this is Rock N Roll and Rock N Roll only … … the beginning of Rock music, many, many decades ago …

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Personnel:
Franny Beecher (lead guitar)
Johnny Grande (piano)
Bill Haley (vocals, guitar)
Ralph Jones (drums)
Al Rex (bass)
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Rudy Pompilli (saxophone, clarinet on 02.)
Billy Williamson (steel guitar, vocals on 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Whoa Mabel! (Haley/Gabler/Keefer/Cafra) 2.25
02. Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider (Leonard/Munson) 2.15
03. Eloise (Haley/Gabler/Keefer/Cafra) 2.24
04. Dinah (Lewis/Young/Akst) 2.24
05. Skinny Minnie (Haley/Gabler/Keefer/Cafra) 2.57
06. Mary Mary Lou (Mangiaracina) 2.38
07. Sweet Sue, Just You (Harris/Young) 2.12
08. B.B. Betty (Haley/Gabler/KeeferCafra) 2.29
09. Charmaine (Rapee/Pollack) 2.47
10. Corrine, Corrina (Chatmon/Parish/Williams) 2.23
11. Marie (Berlin) 2.18
12. Lean Jean (Lee/Grande/Jones/Pompilli) 2.32

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William John Clifton Haley (July 6, 1925 – February 9, 1981)

Lola Albright – Dreamsville (1959)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALola Jean Albright (July 20, 1924 – March 23, 2017) was an American singer and actress, best known for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, on all three seasons of the TV series Peter Gunn.

Albright was born in Akron, Ohio, to Marion A. (née Harvey) and John Paul Albright, both of whom were gospel music singers. The family lived at 552 Fairfield Avenue in the city, but the federal census of 1930 records that Lola, her parents, and her widowed maternal grandmother, Lelia D. Harvey, were all living that year in Akron in the home of Alma L. Barton, Lola’s great-aunt, also a widow. That census further documents that Lola’s mother also was born in Ohio but her father was a native of North Dakota, who in 1930 supported the family by working as an inspector in a local insulating business.

Albright attended King Grammar School and graduated from West High School in Akron in 1942. She sang in public at a young age and studied piano for 20 years. Beginning when she was 15 years old, she worked after school as a receptionist at radio station WAKR in Akron. She left WAKR at the age of 18 and moved to Cleveland, taking a job as a stenographer at WTAM radio. Her first radio performance came on WJW in Cleveland. Moving to Chicago, she worked as a photographer’s model and was discovered by a talent scout, which led to her moving to Hollywood at the age of 23.

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Albright made her motion picture debut with a small singing role in the 1947 musical comedy The Unfinished Dance and then appeared the following year in two Judy Garland movies: The Pirate and Easter Parade. She first gained studio and public notice in the 1949 film noir production Champion with her portrayal of the wife of a manipulative boxing manager; she falls for a prizefighter played by Kirk Douglas. For the next several years, she appeared in secondary roles in over 20 films, including several B westerns. Among them was a co-starring role in the slapstick comedy The Good Humor Man in 1950 with future husband Jack Carson.

Some of the films in which Albright appeared were Tulsa (1949), starring Susan Hayward; The Silver Whip (1953), in which she played the love interest of Dale LolaAlbright03Robertson; and The Tender Trap (1955), in which she was one of several women trying to trap a bachelor, played by Frank Sinatra, into marriage.

In the early 1950s, Albright was also a frequent model for pinup painter Gil Elvgren.

In 1961, she starred in Alexander Singer’s A Cold Wind in August – a low-budget, black-and-white, independent film – as a divorced burlesque show stripper in her 30s who becomes involved in a torrid romance with a 17-year-old boy. Critic Pauline Kael offered high praise for Albright’s performance. In 1985, The New York Times also lauded Albright’s acting in the film. With respect to her personal assessment of her role in A Cold Wind in August, Albright said in 1961, “Some people come up to me and say, ‘Lola, you shouldn’t play that kind of part. It isn’t you.’ Well, I count to 10, bite my tongue and then tell them that I’m an actress: I don’t want to play myself.”

Her performance in A Cold Wind in August gave fresh impetus to her film career, leading to roles in Elvis Presley’s musical Kid Galahad in 1962, in which she played the hard-boiled, long-time girlfriend of a cynical boxing manager played by Gig Young; and in French director René Clément’s Joy House as a wealthy widow with a passion for handing out meals to the poor (albeit with an ulterior motive). In Lord Love a Duck (1966) she portrayed a cocktail waitress who turns suicidal when she thinks she has ruined her daughter Tuesday Weld’s life. The next year she was in the Western epic The Way West.

She gave up her feature-film career in 1968 after completing her work in The Impossible Years, a generation-gap farce in which she performed as Alice Kingsley, the despairing wife of a professor of psychiatry played by (David Niven) and the mother of two teenage daughters.

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Unlike other film actors who were slow to begin acting in television, Albright was actively working in the medium from 1951. She appeared on the anthology series Lux Video Theatre in the episode “Inside Story”. Later she had a recurring role on The Bob Cummings Show in the 1950s and made guest appearances on television series such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Thin Man, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, ” Larado” S01E17, Burke’s Law, The Dick Van Dyke Show, My Three Sons, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza (two episodes), The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Medical Center, Kojak, Columbo, McMillan & Wife, Quincy, M.E., Starsky & Hutch, The Incredible Hulk and Branded.

In 1958, Albright was cast in Peter Gunn, the television detective series produced by Blake Edwards and scored by Henry Mancini. She played sultry Edie Hart, a nightclub singer and the romantic interest of Peter Gunn (Craig Stevens). “She was perfect casting for that role because she had an off-the-cuff kind of jazz delivery that was very hard to find,” Mancini said in 1992. “Just enough to believe that she’d be singing in that club and that she shouldn’t be on Broadway or doing movies.” Over the course of 114 episodes produced for Peter Gunn, Albright sang in 38 of them, covering jazz classics such as “How High the Moon”, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, “Easy Street”, and “Day In, Day Out”.

LolaAlbright05When actress Dorothy Malone had to undergo emergency surgery, Albright filled in for her as the character Constance Mackenzie on the prime-time soap opera Peyton Place. At the time, Albright called the role “one of the biggest challenges of my theatrical career.” She continued to perform in films and to make guest appearances on television until her retirement in 1984.

Columbia Records signed Albright as a vocalist, leading to the release of her album Lola Wants You in 1957. Albright’s subsequent role on Peter Gunn and her performances singing on that series led directly to her second album Dreamsville (1959), which was arranged by Henry Mancini and featured his orchestra. Albright is one of the few non movie-soundtrack singers for whom Mancini arranged.

In 1959, Albright was nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series for her work on Peter Gunn. In 1966, she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress award at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival for her role in Lord Love a Duck.

Albright married and divorced three times, having no children of her own. Her first marriage, to Cleveland radio announcer Warren Dean, occurred in 1944. They divorced in 1949. Her second husband was actor Jack Carson (1951 to 1958). (Another source says that they married August 1, 1952, and divorced November 10, 1958.) Her third marriage was to Bill Chadney (1961 to 1975), who played Emmett, the piano player on Peter Gunn. They married on May 19, 1961 and divorced in 1975.

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Following her retirement from acting, Albright spent her remaining years living in Toluca Lake, California. In 2014, she fell and fractured her spine, an injury that contributed to a general decline in her health over the next three years.

On March 23, 2017, Albright died at her home of natural causes at the age of 92. (by wikipedia)

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By watching old “Peter Gunn” episodes I began to appreciate the sultry Jazz voice of Lola Albright. She sings great Jazz numbers in the show so I looked to see if she had any vinyl Jazz albums. This is the album that is affordable for most listeners and has Lola’s smooth voice to listen too. If you love Jazz, get this album. (by Oz)

This takes me back to the sixties! Never missed an episode of Peter Gunn, and Lola, and the great music were the highlight. This is very good album and an example of the best of that era. (by Robert L. Gaskill)

The only vocal album arranged by Mancini during this period that remains truly remarkable is Lola Albright’s Dreamsville (1959). Albright, of course, starred on the TV detective series Peter Gunn as the Gunn character’s girlfriend. Albright has a husky, relaxed vocal timbre on the album, and Mancini’s arrangements are sterling and beautiful. And according to arranger and Mancini expert Roy Phillips, that’s John Towner Williams on the album playing piano in Mancini’s style. Mancini’s music has long been likened to a dry martini. If that description is apropos, the songs on this album are the olives. (www.jazzwax.com)

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Personnel:
Lola Albright  (vocals)
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The Henry Mancini Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. Two Sleepy People (Loesser/Carmichael) 3.10
02. Dreamsville (Mancini/Evans/Livingston) 3.22
03. We Kiss In A Shadow (Hammerstein II/Rodgers) 3.09
04. Brief And Breezy (Mancini/Cahn) 3.19
05. You’re Driving Me Crazy (What Did I Do?) (Donaldson) 2.45
06. They Didn’t Believe Me (Reynolds/Kern) 2.42
07. Soft Sounds (Mancini/Cahn) 2.39
08. Slow And Easy (Mancini/Cahn) 2.31
09. It’s Always You (Burke/Van Heusen) 3.54
10. Straight To Baby (Mancini/Livingston/Evans) 2.51
11. Just You Just Me (Greer/Klages) 3.05
12. Sorta Blue (Mancini/Cahn) 2.57

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Sam Cooke – Tribute To The Lady (1959)

FrontCover1Samuel Cook (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964), known professionally as Sam Cooke, was an American singer, songwriter, civil-rights activist and entrepreneur.

Influential as a singer, composer, and producer, he is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and importance within popular music. He began singing as a kid and joined the Soul Stirrers before moving to a solo career where he scored a string of hit songs including “You Send Me”, “A Change Is Gonna Come”, “Cupid”, “Wonderful World”, “Chain Gang”, “Twistin’ the Night Away”, and “Bring It On Home to Me”.

His pioneering contributions to soul music contributed to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Billy Preston, and popularized the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown. AllMusic biographer Bruce Eder wrote that Cooke was “the inventor of soul music”, and possessed “an incredible natural singing voice and a smooth, effortless delivery that has never been surpassed”.

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On December 11, 1964, at the age of 33, Cooke was shot and killed by Bertha Franklin, the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California. After an inquest and investigation carried out by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the courts ruled Cooke’s death to be a justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been called into question by Cooke’s family.

Tribute to the Lady is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, released in 1959. It was recorded in tribute to jazz vocalist Billie Holiday, who died later that year. The backing band is the René Hall Orchestra. (by wikipedia)

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An album that’s seldom been seen and disappeared almost as quickly as it was released. Sam Cooke turned these songs inside out with twisting, awesome interpretations. It was one of the few times he was able to break out of the light pop/teen idol bag in a studio and pour his heart into great lyrics and numbers. (Ron Wynn)

Sam “Mr. Soul” Cooke was multi-talented, and his range of songs were from Gospel to Jazz including blues and folk. Here he sings songs made famous by the great Billie Holliday. He does more than justice to them all, and I am sure “Lady Day” felt honored by his rendition of her songs. In the last months of his career and life, you can hear him doing a mixture of songs on “Live at the Copa,” and if you want a real soulful/Gospel oriented album, get the “Live at the Harlem Square Club.” The only live Gospel album is “The Great 1955 Shrine Concert” where he rocked the house (church gathering). I am fortunate to meet and talk with Sam Cook late in 1955 when he was with the Soul Stirrers in my home city of Charleston, SC.

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My teenage Gospel group members and I went to see him, and he treated us as if each one of us was special. We were only fourteen and fifteen years old at the time. We saw women – and men – screaming and the women falling out from his powerful singing. When he was murdered, we all felt as if we had lost a big brother. When people visit us, they see so much Sam Cooke paraphernalia that they ask, “Were you related to Sam Cooke?” lol By the way, he added the “e” to his name when he left the Soul Stirrers and the Gospel circuit and went secular in 1957. He was born Samuel Cook. I bought “Tribute to the Lady” as a gift, and my son loves it. I had the vinyl copy back in the 60s. (Caroll L.)

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Personnel:
Sam Cooke (vocals)
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René Hall Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. God Bless The Child (Herzog, Jr.) 2.36
02. She’s Funny That Way (Daniels/Whiting) 1.53
03. I’ve Got A Right To Sing The Blues (Arlen/Koehler) 2.36
04. Good Morning Heartache (Fisher/Drake/Higginbotham) 2.10
05. ‘T’aint Nobody’s Bizness (If I Do) (Grainger/Robbins) 2.28
06. Comes Love (Brown/Stept/Tobias) 2.31
07. Lover Girl (Man) (Davis/Ramirez/Sherman) 2.27
08. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off (G.Gershwin/I.Gershwin) 2.22
09. Lover Come Back To Me (Romberg/Hammerstein II) 2.14
10. Solitude (Ellington/DeLange/Mills) 2.25
11. They Can’t Take That Away From Me (G.Gershwin/I.Gershwin) 2.34
12. Crazy In Love With You (Benton/Otis) 2.35

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Sam Cooke (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964)

Connie Francis – Christmas With Connie (Christmas In My Heart) (1959)

FrontCover1.jpgChristmas With Connie (or: Christmas in Heart) is a studio album of Christmas music recorded by Connie Francis. The album features popular songs of the season on the A-side and the sacred music of Christmas on the B-side. It was re-released as Connie’s Christmas in 1966. (by wikipedia)

Although some people might argue that not every song here is truly a Christmas song, every song here is entitled to appear on such an album. And any idea that a song has to mention Christmas in the lyrics in order to be classed as a Christmas song is clearly nonsense as that would rule out Silent night, the most popular Christmas song of all, and a whole hot of other Christmas perennials. I agree that some Christmas albums stretch the boundaries a bit too far, but this isn’t one of them.

So to the actual music, which Connie recorded at at a time when her popularity was extremely high. Here, Connie was in top form as usual. Most of the songs are Christmas standards including Winter wonderland, The Christmas song, White Christmas, I’ll be home for Christmas, Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Twelve days of Christmas, Ave Maria, Silent night, O little town of Bethlehem, The first Noel and Adeste fidelis (O come all ye faithful). Yes, Ave Maria is a Christmas standard, whether it was intended to be or not.

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The album closes with The Lord’s prayer, which is fair enough. Connie is certainly not the only singer to include this on a Christmas album; among others, Barbra Streisand did so on her first Christmas album. With so many familiar songs, this album was no doubt popular with record buyers when first released and deserves to remain so.

That leaves three other songs, these being Baby’s first Christmas (a track that you may have come across on Christmas compilations by various artists), Blue winter (which sounds as though it was inspired by the more famous Blue Christmas) and I’m gonna be warm this winter (perhaps my favorite here, being the one song that I was unfamiliar with at the time of purchase).

This is an excellent Christmas album of its type and is a most welcome addition to my ever-growing collection of Christmas music. (Peter Durward Harris)

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Personnel:
Connie Francis (vocals)
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Geoff Live & His Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. White Christmas (Berlin) 3.24
02. Winter Wonderland (Smith/Bernard) 2.44
03. The Christmas Song (Torme/Wells) 3.26
04. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Gannon/Kent/Ram) 3.28
05. Twelve Days Of Christmas (Traditional) 5.21
06. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Blane/Martin) 4.33
07. Adeste Fidelis (O Come, All Ye Faithful) (Traditional) 3.08
08. O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Traditional) 3.00
09. Silent Night (Gruber/Mohr) 3.56
10. The First Noel (Traditional) 3.06
11. Ave Maria (Schubert) 2.52
12. The Lord’s Prayer (Malotte) 3.00

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Duke Ellington – Duke Ellington’s Greatest Hits (1968)

FrontCover1.jpgDuke Ellington was the most important composer in the history of jazz as well as being a bandleader who held his large group together continuously for almost 50 years. The two aspects of his career were related; Ellington used his band as a musical laboratory for his new compositions and shaped his writing specifically to showcase the talents of his bandmembers, many of whom remained with him for long periods. Ellington also wrote film scores and stage musicals, and several of his instrumental works were adapted into songs that became standards. In addition to touring year in and year out, he recorded extensively, resulting in a gigantic body of work that was still being assessed a quarter century after his death. (by William Ruhlmann)

Columbia’s Greatest Hits features many of Duke Ellington’s best-known songs and biggest hits, including “Satin Doll,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Solitude,” “Mood Indigo,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “Prelude to a Kiss” and “Perdido.” It’s a fine sampling of Ellington’s most familiar melodies and works as a good introduction for novices. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Duke EllingtonDuke Ellington’s work cannot possibly be summed up in one CD. Even his most important and influential work could barely make up a three CD collection. When I was beginning to get interested in Jazz, though, I wanted an album that, for a low price, would best represent what he has done for the world of jazz and music in the twentieth century.
Well, this album more then achieved that. If you could only have 10 of the Duke’s songs, then these would be the ones to have. C Jam Blues, I’m Beginning to See the Light, and Perdido are something every musician and music lover should hear. I strongly recommend this album, cuz’ its muy perfecto! (by Jason Decristofaro)

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Personnel:
Duke Ellington Orchestra
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Al Hibbler (vocals on 02.)
Betty Roche (vocals on 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. Satin Doll (1958) (Ellington) 3.54
02. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (1947) (Russell/Ellington) 3.06
03. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me (1947) (Russell/Ellington) 3.07
04. Take The “A” Train (1952) (Strayhorn) 8.03
05. Solitude (1957) (Ellington/DeLange/Mills) 4.44
06. C Jam Blues (1959) (Ellington) 4.55
07. Mood Indigo (1957) (Bigard/Ellington/Mills) 3.06
08. I’m Beginning To See The Light (1960) (George/Ellington/James/Hodges) 2.06
09. Prelude To A Kiss (1957) (Ellington/Gordon/Mills) 4.45
10. Perdido (1960) (Drake/Lenk/Tizol) 6.44

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Taken from the original liner notes:

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Terry Gibbs – More Vibes On Velvet (1959)

FrontCover1erry Gibbs (born Julius Gubenko, October 13, 1924) is an American jazz vibraphonist and band leader.

He has performed or recorded with Tommy Dorsey, Chubby Jackson, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Alice Coltrane, Louie Bellson, Charlie Shavers, Mel Tormé, Buddy DeFranco, and others. Gibbs also worked in film and TV studios in Los Angeles.

In the 1950–1951 season, Gibbs was a popular guest on Star Time on the DuMont Television Network. Thereafter, he was a regular in 1953–1954 on NBC’s Judge for Yourself.

In the late 1950s, he appeared on NBC’s The Steve Allen Show, on which he regularly played lively vibraphone duets with the entertainer and composer. In 1997, he appeared on Steve Allen’s 75th Birthday Celebration on PBS. Gibbs was also the bandleader on the short-lived That Regis Philbin Show. As an instrumentalist, together with his big band, the Dream Band, Gibbs has won prestigious polls, such as those of Downbeat and Metronome.

When Gibbs moved from New York to California in 1958 he began planning for his next big band album. In early 1959 he booked extended residencies at two Los Angeles night clubs, the Seville and the Sundown for what became known as the Dream Band.

TerryGibbs02The band usually played on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night when the cream of Hollywood jazz and studio musicians would be available. The core band always remained stable with Mel Lewis holding down the drum chair.

Some of the key players were lead altoist Joe Maini, tenor saxists Bill Holman and Med Flory, trumpeters Al Porcino and Conte Candoli and trombonists Frank Rosolino and Bob Enevoldsen.

New arrangements were commissioned from Bill Holman, Marty Paich, Med Flory, Manny Albam and Al Cohn, among others, to feature Gibbs’ vibes in front of the band. The band released four albums from 1959 to 1961.
In the mid 1960s, Gibbs opened a music store in Canoga Park, California, with former Benny Goodman drummer Mel Zelnick. Terry Gibbs and Mel Zelnick Music Stop was also the first teaching facility of the drum guru Freddie Gruber and Henry Bellson, brother of Louie. (by wikipedia)

Terry Gibbs is sometimes deemed more the hard-driving swinger and jack-in-the-box of modern vibraharp than musician of sensitive feeling for a ballad.

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Clearly, his first Vibes On Velvet album (MG 36064) proclaimed the 34-year old Brooklynite (now resident in Southern California) one with a signal way with a pretty melody.

When the ballads are illumined by the perceptive arrangements of Manny Albam, the musical setting becomes such that the listener is presented a Terry Gibbs far removed indeed from the dazzling thrust-and-parry youngsters-in-jazz who erupted so potently in the Second Herd of Woody Herman during the ’40s. While the wisecracks and gum chewing remain indissolubly part of Gibbs personality, his maturity in musical expression has seldom been more evident than in his treatment of these ballads. Contrasting sharply with the bulk of his recorded output during the past decade, this subdued selection reveals a more restrained facet of Terry’s assertive jazz approach.

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“It’s very hard to play a straight melody on vibes,” mused Terry, listening to a playback. “You keep wanting to play little figures and things around the tune and it’s really tough to stay on the melody line.”

He lapsed into silence for awhile, then abruptly observed, “You know, my wife is right about my playing. She says I play best on the songs I don’t know. Take this one, What Is There To Say. It was new to me. I guess on new tunes you have to think more. You don’t have time to get lazy and fall into playing ideas you’re used to.” (taken from the original liner notes)

A superb album, smooth jazz from the late 50´s. Perfect for an evening in a small Jazz-Bar.

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Personnel:
Max Bennett (bass)
Med Flory (saxophone)
Terry Gibbs (vibraphone)
Bill Holman (saxophone)
Pete Jolly (piano)
Charlie Kennedy (saxophone)
Mel Lewis (drums)
Joe Maini (saxophone)
Jack Schwartz (saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. Moonlight Serenade (Miller/Parrish) 3.03
02. Blues In The Night (Mercer/Arlen) 4.13
03. Impossible (Allen) 3.13
04. What Is There To Say (Harburg/Duke) 3.00
05. I Remember (D.Gibbs/T.Gibbs) 2.48
06. The Things We Did Last Summer (Cahn/Stynes) 3.17
07. You Make Me Feel So Young (Gordon/Myrow) 2.46
08. At Last (Gordon/Warren) 2.46
09. Lazy Sunday (D.Gibbs/T.Gibbs) 4.00
10. Every Day Is Spring With You (Legan/Gibbs)
11. With All My Love To You (D.Gibbs/T.Gibbs/Legan) 3.26
12. Don’t Cry (D.Gibbs/T.Gibbs) 3.59

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Don Swan & His Orchestra – Latino (1959)

FrontCover1.jpgMore on the kitschy easy listening side than the smooth, cool Latin recordings of Cal Tjader, Don Swan was nonetheless one of the better white musicians to make inroads into Latin jazz during the ’50s. Swan was born Wilbur Clyde Schwandt in Manitowoc, WI, on June 28, 1904; he studied composition at the University of Chicago and became an arranger for various big bands, even working with comedian Bob Hope’s touring show. In 1940, he was hired as an arranger for Xavier Cugat’s orchestra, a post he would hold off and on for the next 20 years. Swan’s resulting experience and familiarity with Latin music helped put his services in great demand — not only as an arranger, but also as a composer, for both white big bands (Skinnay Ennis, Freddy Martin) and Latin dance orchestras (Perez Prado, Desi Arnaz). Swan signed to Liberty Records as a recording artist circa 1956-1957, and recorded a string of five Latin lounge LPs, beginning with Mucho Cha Ca Cha. Subsequent LPs like All This and Cha Cha Too, Hot Cha Cha, and two volumes of Latino! DonSwan01found Swan heading up all-star groups of West Coast session men, walking the line between Latin jazz and exotic gimmickry. The success of his albums allowed Swan to form a touring group, and he played extensively in New York and Las Vegas. Swan retired from music in the mid-’60s, and eventually moved to Miami, where he died on July 23, 1998, at the ripe old age of 94. (by Steve Huey)

Latino is no closer to serious Latin than Don Swan’s previous three albums, but there is a new maturity and confidence here. Even though “Razz-Berry Mambo” may be lacking in maturity, and “Linda Mujer” begins with a rock beat, overall the group of star West Coast jazz men is sounding more like a touring orchestra than a studio contrivance. The whistling and harp seem to be gone in favor of more post-“Cherry Pink” trumpet theatrics. Latino also raises the bar slightly in its lurid jacket art. (A thumbnail can be seen, and “El Cumbanchero” heard, on the Liberty sampler, Stereo: the Visual Sound LST-100). The model, conga drum, and soft focus are still there, but the fishnet stockings and all else are gone. Even stripped down to the essentials, Latino still reeks of Hollywood cheese. (by Tony Wilds)

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Personnel:
Don Swan & His Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. El Cumbanchero 2.04
02. Chatita 3.01
03. La Paloma 2.11
04. Miami Beach Rumba 2.21
05. Once Ocheta y Uno 1.46
06. Razz-Berry Mambo 2.16
07. Linda Mujer 1.55
08. Betita 3.20
09. Hokey Joe 2.18
10. Gracias 2.22
11. A San Antonio Me Voy 2.04
12. Cha Cha in Alaska 2.39

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Ella Fitzgerald (with Nelson Riddle) – Sings The George And Ira Gershwin Song Book (Vol. 1) (1959)

FrontCover1.JPGElla Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book is a box set by American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald that contains songs by George and Ira Gershwin with arrangements by Nelson Riddle. Fifty-nine songs were recorded in the span of eight months in 1959.

Fitzgerald’s recording of “But Not for Me” won the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Female.

Ira Gershwin said, “I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them”.

This collection is one of the eight comprising what is possibly Ella Fitzgerald’s greatest musical legacy: Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Complete American Songbook  in which she recorded with top arrangers and musicians well-known and obscure tracks by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer. (by wikipedia)

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By far the best of any of the songbooks Ella Fitzgerald made “The George and Ira Gershwin” songbook is a tour de force of pure genius from Ella and legendary arranger Nelson Riddle.

In January 1959 Ella and Riddle embarked on an ambitious project to record all of George and Ira Gershwin’s music, some of which had not even been recorded at the time! Riddle was coming off some of his best work with Sinatra and Ella was vocally in her prime at this point in her career. The recording was done over a few sessions ending in Aug/Sep of 1959, by the end of recording 53 songs plus several instrumental cuts, both must have been exhausted!

Ira Gershwin ( who was still alive at the time) commented after the record was released that he never knew he and his brothers songs could sound so good! Also legendary musician Andre Previn was so impressed with Riddle’s work on the album he recommended him to various people in the business for muscial projects.

I can’t recommend this enough. Regarded as one of the best albums of the 1950’s and rightly so and easily the best of Ella’s songbooks. Ella recorded 2 other songbooks with Riddle for Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern as well as 2 other regular albums (Swing gently and swing brightly) which are also very very good indeed. (by Russell C. Witheyman)

And the great cover art was done by Bernard Buffet ! Bernard Buffet (10 July 1928 – 4 October 1999) was a French painter of Expressionism and a member of the anti-abstract art group L’homme Témoin (the Witness-Man).

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Personnel:
Ella Fitzgerald (vocals)
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Trumpet:
Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Conrad Gozzo, Manny Klein, Cappy Lewis, Vito Mangano, Dale McMickle, Shorty Sherock, Joe Triscari

Trombone:
Milt Bernhart, Richard Noel, Tommy Pederson, James Priddy, Juan Tizol

Bass trombone:
Karl DeKarske, George Roberts

French horn:
James Decker, Vincent DeRosa

Tuba:
Red Callender, Ed Gilbert

Saxophone:
Benny Carter, Ronnie Lang, Ted Nash, Plas Johnson, Chuck Gentry

Woodwinds:
Gene Cipriano, Buddy Collette, Justin Gordon, Jewell Grant, William Green, Jules Jacob, Harry Klee, Joe Koch, Wilbur Schwartz, Buck Skalak, Champ Webb

Piano:
Lou Levy, Paul Smith

Guitar:
Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel

Bass:
Joe Comfort, Ralph Peña

Drums:
Alvin Stoller, Mel Lewis, Bill Richmond

Percussion:
Larry Bunker, Frank Flynn

String section:

Violin:
Israel Baker, Henry Hill, Harold Dicterow, Erno Neufield, Victor Arno, Victor Bay, Alex Beller, Joseph Livoti, Jacques Gasselin, Walter Edelstein, James Getzoff, Eudice Shapiro, Ben Gill, Murrary Kellner, Nat Ross, Felix Slatkin, Marshall Sosson, Misha Russell, Paul Shure, Dan Lube, Gerald Vinci

Viola:
Alvin Dinken, Lou Kievman, David Sterkin, Stanley Harris, Paul Robyn, Barbara Simons
Cello – Elizabeth Greenschpoon, James Arkatov, Armand Kaproff, George Neikrug, Dave Filerman, Kurt Reher

Harp:
Katharine Julyie

Arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle

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Tracklist:
01. Sam And Delilah 3.18
02. But Not For Me 3.34
03. My One And Only 2.38
04. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off 4.29
05. (I´ve Got) Beginners Luck 3.11
06. Oh, Lady Be Good 4.02
07. Nice Work If You Can Get It 3.35
08. Things Are Looking Up 3.06
09. Just Another Rhumba 5.37
10. How Long Has This Been Going On 3.47

Music: George Gershwin
Lyrics: Ira Gershwin

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George Lewis With Papa Bue’s Viking Jazzband – George And The Vikings (1959)

FrontCover1.jpgGeorge Lewis (born Joseph Louis Francois Zenon, July 13, 1900 – December 31, 1968) was an American jazz clarinetist who achieved his greatest fame and influence in the later decades of his life.

Lewis was born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Through his mother, Alice Zeno, his maternal great-great-grandmother was a Senegalese slave who was brought to Louisiana around 1803. Zeno’s family retained some knowledge of Senegalese language and customs until Alice’s generation.

During the 1920s he started the New Orleans Stompers. In that decade he also worked with Chris Kelly, Buddy Petit, Kid Rena, and was a member of the Eureka Brass Band and the Olympia Orchestra. In the 1930s he played with Bunk Johnson, De De Pierce, and Billie Pierce. He recorded with Johnson in the early 1940s and with Kid Shots Madison. Alan Lomax brought Lewis on a Rudi Blesh radio show in 1942 in which Lewis played “Woodchopper’s Ball” by Woody Herman.

Unable to make enough money as a musician, he worked loading and unloading cargo on ships at the docks of the Mississippi River.

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In 1944 Lewis was injured while working on the docks. A heavy container nearly crushed his chest. He practiced while convalescing in bed at his St. Phillips Street home in the French Quarter. His friends, banjoist Lawrence Marrero and double bassist Alcide Pavageau, brought their instruments to his bedside. Bill Russell brought his portable recorder and they recorded “Burgundy Street Blues”, improvised blues song that was to become the Lewis signature piece. As Russell recorded Lewis, he occasionally gave new titles to interpretations of pop tunes, such as “New Orleans Hula” for “Hula Lou”. These changes may have been made for copyright reasons, but occasionally it was because musicians reported the titles inaccurately to Russell.

GeorgeLewis01.jpgLewis stayed with Johnson’s band through 1946. This included a trip to New York City, where they played for dancing at the Stuyvesant Casino on Second Avenue. Band members included Johnson, Marrero, Pavageau, trombonist Jim Robinson, pianist Alton Purnell, and drummer Baby Dodds. While in New York, they recorded for Decca and Victor. After Johnson retired, Lewis took over leadership of the band, which included Robinson, Pavageau, Marrero, Purnell, Joe Watkins, and a succession of New Orleans trumpeters: Elmer Talbert, Kid Howard, and Percy Humphrey. Starting in 1949, Lewis was a regular on Bourbon Street clubs and radio station WDSU.

His band was profiled in the June 6, 1950 issue of Look magazine with photographs by Stanley Kubrick. His reputation grew and he became a leader of the New Orleans revival.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s his recordings reached the UK and influenced clarinetists Monty Sunshine and Acker Bilk. They became important contributors to the traditional jazz scene in the UK and accompanied Lewis when he toured the country.

Lewis visited England in 1957, playing throughout the country with Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen. In 1959 he returned, this time with his full band, and received a warm response. In 1959 he visited Denmark and played at Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen.

Beginning in the 1960s, he played regularly at Preservation Hall as leader of the GeorgeLewis03.jpgPreservation Hall Jazz Band until shortly before his death. His performances were painted by New Orleans artists. Sitting portraits by Noel Rockmore were sold to collectors. Rockwell painted several musicians who had performed at Preservation Hall. John Van Beuren bought portraits that he put in other residences. His home in Morristown, New Jersey that was built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe had portraits of George Lewis and Louis Nelson.

Jazz critic Gary Giddins described Lewis as “an affecting musician with a fat-boned sound but limited technique”. (by wikipedia)

On this album George Lewis played with Papa Bue’s Viking Jazzband:

Arne “Papa” Bue Jensen (8 May 1930 – 2 November 2011), known as Papa Bue, was a Danish trombonist and bandleader, chiefly associated with the Dixieland jazz revival style of which he was considered an important proponent. He founded and led the Viking Jazz Band, which was active from 1956.

Arne Bue Jensen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. At an early age, he became fascinated with jazz, prompted by a pile of records from his brother that included Harry James, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Bert Ambrose. Bunk Johnson and George Lewis made a strong impression.

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After World War II, Jensen became a sailor, visiting ports around the world. It was around this time that he started to play jazz. He bought a slide trombone with money he borrowed, which would take him years to repay. A musician from the Royal Danish Orchestra taught him some basics, but otherwise he was self-taught. He played in Copenhagen clubs with other young musicians and bands, including the Royal Jazzman (later the Bohana Jazz Band), Henrik Johansen’s Jazz Band, and the Saint Peter Street Stompers, participating as a sideman in several recordings.[4] In the 1950s, Papa Bue worked with the Bonanza Jazz Band, Chris Barber, Adrian Bentzon, and Henrik Johansen.

In the mid 1950s, he was part of the entertainment district in Nyhavn. He performed with other young jazz musicians in various informal arrangements. With six musicians he founded the New Orleans Jazz Band in 1956, after a jam session at Cap Horn. Since Jensen was the eldest, he became the bandleader. Given that he was the only band member who was a father, he was given the nickname “Papa Bue”.

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In late 1957, Jensen renamed the ensemble the Viking Jazz Band. The name came from American journalist and vocalist Shel Silverstein who attended one of their concerts at Cap Horn during a stay in Copenhagen. He subsequently wrote an article about them, calling them the Danish Vikings, explaining that they played original New Orleans and Chicago jazz better than any American band at the time. The band adopted the new name and released their first album as the Viking Jazz Band in 1958. In 1960 their “Schlafe Mein Prinzchen” sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

At a time when many jazz musicians worked in the Bebop idiom, Bue’s style remained based on the Dixieland tradition but also with influences from early swing music. He is considered one of the most significant proponents of his genre.

The group remained active into the 1990s, and recorded with musicians such as George Lewis (1959), Champion Jack Dupree (1962), Art Hodes (1970), Wild Bill Davison (1970, 1974), Wingy Manone, Edmond Hall and Albert Nicholas. They also played with George Lewis, Earl Hines, Stuff Smith, Ben Webster. Wild Bill Davison was a permanent band member. It was Papa Bue’s Viking Jazz Band which recorded Bent Fabricius-Bjerre’s theme music for the Olsen Gang series, now a legendary sequence for the Danes. Jensen released a large number of albums, many of them issued or reissued on Storyville Records, Timeless Records, and Music Mecca.

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Papa Bue died on 2 November 2011, at the age of 81.

In 1969, Papa Bue’s Viking Jazz Band was the only non-American band to participate in the New Orleans Jazz Festival and Jensen was honored with the “Golden Keys to the City”.

In 1989 he received the Ben Webster’s Prize of Honour. (by wikipedia)

New Orleans clarinetist George Lewis teamed up with trombonist Papa Bue Jensen’s Copenhagen-based Dixieland band for an LP in 1959 that has been reissued on this CD, along with five previously unreleased alternate takes. Lewis sounds a bit erratic in spots, slipping in and out of tune, and Jensen’s band (which includes trumpeter Finn Otto Hansen and Jorgen Svare on second clarinet) was not as strong as it would become. The music, which includes “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Listen To the Mocking Bird,” “Isle of Capri” and “Salutation March,” is full of spirit but not essential. (by Scott Yanow)

Okay, another old fashioned album in this blog, but a real good one !

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Personnel:
George Lewis (clarinet, vocals on 17. )
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Papa Bue’s Viking Jazzband:
Finn Otto Hansen (trumpet)
Arne “Papa Bue” Jensen (trombone)
Ib Lindschow (drums)
Bjarne Pedersen (banjo)
Mogens Seidelin (bass)
Jørgen Svare (clarinet)

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Tracklist:
01. The Old Rugged Cross (Traditional) 6.36
02 Now Is The Hour (Clement/Scott) 4.07
03. Maisie (Traditional) 4.07
04. In The Sweet Bye And Bye (Traditional) 4.00
05. Listen To The Mocking Bird (Traditional) 4.34
06. The Old Spinning Wheel (Hill) 4.30
07. Silverthreads Among The Gold ( 3:28
08. Isle Of Capri (Grosz) 3.40
09. Mary Wore A Golden Chain (Traditional) 2.38
10. Salutation March (Traditional) 4.25
11. Far Away Blues (Traditional) 3.40
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12. You Always Hurt The One You Love (take 2) (Fisher/Roberts) 3.26
13. If I Ever Cease To Love (take 1) (Traditional) 2.14
14. Martha (take 1) (Traditional) 4.09
15. In The Sweet By And By (take 1) (Traditional) 4.31
16. You Always Hurt the One You Love (take 1) (Fisher/Roberts) 4.50
17. Mary Wore A Golden Chain (take 2) (Traditional) 2.31
18. If I Ever Cease To Love (Traditional) 2.07

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