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George Frazier, '33, record critic for Mademoiselle ("The Magazine for Smart Young Women" who can't think farther than the next week-end party), has the following to say about Charlie Barnet: "I happen to think that Barnet's records are uniformly stinking. . . I can't tolerate Barnet because he and the music he sponsors are doing irreparable injury to the cause of reputable, heartfelt jazz." This is all based on the fact that Charlie Barnet "has had the colossal bad taste to ape the one inimitable band around today and the result is something cheap and disgusting." Needless to-say, the "inimitable band" is Duke Ellington.
Now George is a very sincere guy and has done an awful lot--more than most of us realize--to promote interest in good jazz music, particularly around these parts. But every so often he puts himself out on a limb with some childish statement like the above: and an apology generally results a few months later. For instance, a while back George had some rather disparaging remarks to make about The One Inimitable Band Around Today, for which he subsequently apologized. Now that's all fine, as one seldom sees such downright honesty in a critic. However, it seems to me that George would save himself a lot of word-eating if he'd only refrain from his occasional excursions into adolescent bombast.
I don't think Barnet has shown any bad taste whatsoever in basting his style on the Duke's. True, his recordings of Ellington tunes are inferior, as most imitations are; but they're far from being "cheap and disgusting." Barnet has a more-than-adequate swing band whose reed and brass sections are clean and well-balanced, and whose rhythm section can really jump when it wants. There's nothing in the Barnet make-up that would cause him to harm the music created by a man whose work he has always admired and respected. Don't worry, Charlie knows what constitutes bad taste. Listen to his recording of The Worng Idea and see what he thinks of men really "doing irreparable injury to the cause of reputable, heartfelt jazz."
My reason for bringing this whole business up lies in the fact that I consider Charle Barnet's orchestra to be one of the finest and most tasteful all-round bands in the finest and most tasteful all-round bands in the game today. Don't forget that many band leaders imitate. It's nothing new, and I think we can all be thankful that Charlie picked the world's number one jazz musician as his master.
NEWS AND NEW REALEASES: Via airmail from New York: Count Basic will disband his orchestra and join Benny Goodman unless he is released from his contract with MCA. Right now the Count is on the road with Benny . . . Record of the week: Wings Over Manbattan by Charles Barnet (BLUEBIRD), and "atmosphere" tune on the line of Rhapsody in Blue. Very imaginative arranging of sophisticated melodic patterns built around the 32 bar theme. . . For a girl vocal trio that really swings (Andrews Sisters please note), listen to the Dandridge Sisters with Jinunie Lunceford on Red Wagon and You Ain't Nowhere (COLUMBIA). Trio and orchestra work together smoothly in two fine novelty tunes. . . Frog voiced, one-armed jive artist Wingy Mannone cuts two sides of terrific undisciplined jazz Dinner For the Duchess and Wingy Mannene cuts two sides of terrific undisciplined jazzy Dinner For the Duchess and When I Get You Alone Tonight (BLUEBIRD). Wingly's seat choruses are featured on both sides, and Dixieland fans will get a kick out of the ensemble jam on the finishes. . . Cozy Cole and Chu Berry grace Cab Calloway's OREB recording A Chicken Ain't Nothing But a Bird. Tune was featured in the Southland floor show last year. . . lna Ray Button's new out offers two riff tunes: Five O'Clock Whistle and Make Me Know It (OREB). Band shows lots of promise, particularly in the rhythm section.
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