1945 Live in Hi-Fi at Culver City

1945 Live in Hi-Fi at Culver City

by Harry James & His Orchestra

CD

Overview

Many of the live big band remotes available on compact disc are merely a regurgitation of material that at one time, or even several times, has appeared already on LP. But once in awhile you run across something that is apparently completely undocumented, as in the case of two of the December 1945 dates from the Harry James Orchestra captured on the Jazz Hour disc 1945 Live in Hi-Fi at Culver City. James' band was at the peak of its popularity and had good soloists in Corky Corcoran, the leader (naturally), and Juan Tizol, who had lately jumped ship from Ellington to join James as trombonist and arranger. Kitty Kallen, James' girl vocalist, had decided to take the month of December 1945 off, and that brought excellent but unheralded vocalist Anita Boyer into the band. Buddy DeVito, a good if not exceptionally distinctive boy singer, is heard for the balance of the vocal selections. The source material for the first date represented here, December 1, 1945 at the Meadowbrook Gardens in Culver City, is well preserved. The sound, while somewhat short of "Hi-Fi," is also quite good, although there is not a lot of bottom-end response, and at times the air check is a mite tinny and shrill. "Eleven Sixty P.M." is a gentle but solid swinger with a fine vocal by Anita Boyer. Tenorman Corky Corcoran is shown off to good effect in a solo spotlight on "It's the Talk of the Town." The instrumentals are all top-drawer swing, and the power of the four-man trumpet section in Buddy DeVito's vocal "June is Bustin' Out All Over" is liable to tear your head off. The filler material begins with part of another December 1945 date, this time originating from the Casino Gardens in Ocean Park, CA. This broadcast makes its second appearance here on a Jazz Hour CD (it originally showed up on the now out-of-print disc Jazz Hour JH-1023.) This is decidedly less well-recorded than the Meadowbrook date; Anita Boyer sings "Where or When," but this is disappointing, as either the key is set too low to be comfortable for Boyer, or the track is reproduced at a speed which is a bit too slow (more likely the latter). This Casino Gardens set is followed by three odd items identified as "bonus tracks." The first two are Buddy DeVito vocals that are not very interesting and could date anywhere from May 1944 to December 1947, as per DeVito's tenure in the James band. But the final track does yield surprises in the form of a jam on "Honeysuckle Rose" from the end of a show clearly identified as emanating from the Casino Gardens. This features a short but blisteringly effective electric guitar solo, still a relative rarity in 1945. James' band guitarist at this point was Hayden Causey, a Louisville-based player noted mainly as an influence on Jimmy Raney. Apparently Causey did not record outside of his work with James in 1945-1946, so this is a rare opportunity to hear this electric guitar pioneer out in front of the band. Overall, 1945 Live in Hi-Fi at Culver City offers little in the way of standout material from a group that was, for its day, regarded as one of the finest swing bands. On the other hand, those who do admire the Harry James organization of this era (and in 1945, millions did) will probably want this CD; the music is good, the recording quality is acceptable, and the band is a fine, swinging one.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/22/1997
Label: JAZZ HOUR (DNA)
UPC: 0008591300622
catalogNumber: 3006

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