on February 15, 1999
Boyd Raeburn's band was one of the most innovative of its time, one in which swing, bebop and symphonic music were combined in a totally unique way. My only caveats are that tracks 13 and 16 are reversed ('Hip Boyd's' is actually 'Duck Waddle' and vice versa) and that the last four tracks are actually Johnny Richards recordings (Raeburn's last arranger) featuring Boyd's male vocalist, but since there are 26 tracks, that isn't so bad. Some of the music is absolutely transcendental, and most of the recording quality is excellent. I highly recommend this recording to anyone who would like to hear big-band swing stretch itself!
on November 4, 2011
My first experience listening to Boyd Raeburn's band was a few days ago on Slacker Radio. I have the premium version and was able to listen to many tracks. It was so different than most of the big band music I was accustomed to hearing in my early youth. My prior experience listening to the popular bands of the 40's and 50's was due to my father who played in some of the big bands in the late thirties and then settled down in Detroit as a studio musician. I am not a musician or music critic but agree with the other comments. It sounds to me as if some of Boyd Raeburn's unique sound found its way into some of the early TV show's sound tracks. Too bad his band never got a chance to make a movie sound track (as far as I know) it would have been a doozy! I have to add an edit: After further research, George Handy, the arranger, seems to be deserving of a lot of the credit for these recordings.
on September 27, 2003
I had read about the Raeburn band back in the late '60s in George Simon'd book "The Big Bands," but no recordings were then available. Finally, in the mid-1980s, I heard an album of some sensational Raeburn broadcast performances and was hooked. This band played many of the conventional pop and swing tunes of its day, but EVERYTHING had a twist.....and I have NEVER heard a white big band so continually "up" in all of its performances. Everyone in this band sounded like they were having fun, and that esprit de corps even carried over to their commercial recordings.
Unfortunately, "commercial recordings" were just that - they were meant to try to "sell" the band, so there are quite a few ballads and a couple of "standard" swing numbers here. Ginny Powell was a June Christy-type singer, good diction and a nice rhythmic feel, yet somehow her performances sound just a tad monotonous to my ears, though George Handy's arrangement on "Body and Soul" is outstanding. The '40s was also the era of the Pop Crooner Baritone, every band white or black it seems had to have one (Bob Eberly, Billy Eckstine, Dick Haymes, Herb Jeffries, Johnny Desmond, Johnny Hartman and Tony Martin to name a few), and David Allyn, Raeburn's male singer, is another one of these.....yes, he scoops a little less than most and handles the tricky modulations in "I Only Have Eyes for You" pretty well, but...a pop crooner is just a pop crooner. Thus the last four tracks, no matter how prettily scored, leave me flat, as do a lot of his other recordings on here. (I did, however, enjoy "Blue Echoes" which the annotator hated!)
Still, there is enough enjoyable music here to make the disk a worthwhile purchase: "Tonsilectomy," "Dalvatore Sally," "Hep Boyds," "Duck Waddle," "Over the Rainbow" (possibly their most surrealistic arrangement ever!) and "Love Tales" (not really much jazz in this track, but it is SUCH a beautiful and well-knit performance you scarcely notice). The first 12 tracks are essentially Handy arrangements, or Handy rearrangements of Eddie Finckel ("Duck Waddle"), the remainder are by Johnny Richards. Both arrangers (not to mention such free-lancers as Budd Johnson, Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron and Ralph Burns who contributed to the Raeburn book, though not here) lifted the orchestra several notches above more famous rival Stan Kenton, who had both a more aggressive personality and a big-label contract with Capitol while poor Raeburn only recorded a total of 34 sides for Guild (later bought out by Musicraft) and Jewell, both of which had terrible distribution.
Just an aside....I always wondered why RCA Victor never snapped Raeburn up. After all, post-1944 Tommy Dorsey just got stodgier and less interesting, Glenn Miller was dead, and Dizzy's big band didn't really arrive until 1947, so Raeburn would have been a logical choice for Victor to compete with Herman's Herd and Claude Thornhill on Columbia or Kenton on Capitol. Oh, well...the time is now long past. We should be grateful we have as much of Boyd's records, Jubilee V-discs and radio transcriptions as we do. If you are a new Raeburn listener, this is a good place to start, even if 8 of the tracks here don't show the band at its best. The rest do, and the sound quality is OUTSTANDING for 1946-47.
on September 25, 2002
I'm a sucker for humorous jazz vocals so this CD was worth the price just to get the studio version of "Rip Van Winkle" featuring Ginny Powell.
As for the rest of the album - well these versions might not be quite as exciting as some live renditions of the same tunes, but the sound quality of these studio cuts makes this lp essential for Raeburn fans.
Was there ever a white big band hipper than Raeburn's? Even Herman's Herd sounds almost square next to these guys. And Kenton? To quote Anita O'Day, "Stanley wouldn't swing if you hung him with a rope!"