A combination of the seventh column and a blessed event at the Trojan Horse's have made your reviewer feel very sheepish this morning. For it is only by some foul treachery that Andre Kostalonetz's first records for the new Green Seal Columbia could have turned out as badly as they did.
Kostalonetz has always been one of my idols and I hoped that his first records in a long while (of "Selections from Porgy and Best," "Claire De Lune," and "Pavane" by Ravel) would he up to the standard he has set on his radio program. Kosty has always had the most brilliant of the big "symphonic" Jazz bands and usually makes Mr. Whiteman look sick.
This time however, his arrangements lacked their usual sparkle. For once, you didn't have to play them over and over again to catch stray and subtle instrumental ideas. The records were pompous and grandiose, and suffered from all the bad taste of meaningless slowing of tempos, etc. that Kostalonetz usually avoids.
I certainly hope that this won't be Kosty's last recording session. He has a marvelous orchestra (even in these records, the strings are something to write home about), swell ideas, and a free hand. It's to be hoped that he will make better selections and play them in his usual manner the next time he records.
People claim that no good swing exists in Boston. We deny this, while pointing to Jack Hill's outfit, playing at the Little Dixie over on Mass. Avenue. Despite the foolish economy of cutting the band to six pieces removing Eddie Hawley's fine bass and Bob Chestnut's trumpet work, the band still swings. High Diggs (piano) and Dave Chestnut (drums) "kick" right along while Bill Stanley's trumpet and Daniel Potter's excellent sax work are worth catching.
WORKING THIS WEEK AT THE WAX-WORKS:
"I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" by the same group of swing stars that Freddle Rich used for a previous date has Benny Carter trumpet and arrangements worth catching . . . "More Than You Know" by the Carter band itself is swell, as is the reverse "Shuffiebug Shuffle." Why this fine band isn't given more work is more than this writer can figure out . . . Buster Balley's "Chained To A Dream," recorded when the John Kirby band was still at the Onyx Club, has a few too many pretty trills for me, although it does show off the amazingly pure symphonic tone that Buster can get on clarinet when he wants to. The reverse of "San Juan Hill" is by one of the small Duke Ellington groups and is much better than usual . . .
One of several re-issues on Bluebird, "Swing Is Here" and "I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music" by Gene Krupa and added stars is a very interesting record. Done in 1936 (February), it forecasts what was to happen to the Goodman band a year later: loud but powerful rhythm and fast, amazingly technical solos. Benny Goodman (clarinet), Roy Eldridge (trumpet) and Chu Berry (tenor sax) play the solos on this record. With the exception of Chu's, the solos are repetitious as the dickens and sound like every solo the men had made--and Chu's are just fair.
Best part of the records is the driving rhythm achieved, even at the made tempos picked. Therefore, where is bassist israel Crosby who played on these records? A John Hammond discovery who made some wonderful records with Krupa and Fietcher Henderson, he has dropped out of sight for the last couple of years. We can think of plenty of bands who could use his strong, easy playing.
Other re-issues: "When It's Sleepy Time Down South"--okeh Louis Armstrong, which I suppose is pretty strong recommendation in itself . . . "Shake it and Break It"--King Oliver has played better trumpet than on this one . . . "Peggy" by McKinney's Cotton Pickers--a good example of the playing of the band which introduced powerful ensemble work to jazz . . . "New Orleans Twist"--even though the arrangement is swiped from "Black Magic" which he did for Casa Loma (Brunswick), the trumpet playing of Bunny Berigan and Wingy Mannone makes this Gene Gifford worth getting.