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Trumpet Blues: The Best Of

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Trumpet Blues: The Best Of
  • +
  • The Complete Recordings Nineteen Thirty-Nine
  • +
  • I've Heard That Song Before: Hits of Harry James [ORIGINAL RECORDINGS REMASTERED]
Total price: $26.96
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Editorial Reviews

Harry re-recorded many of his '30s hits in hi-fi during the '50s, but he also recorded lots of new material. This collection of 1955-1958 recordings-with such guests as Helen Forrest, Willie Smith, Corky Corcoran and Buddy Rich-features both, including Trumpet Blues; Ciribiribin; Blues on a Count; Barn 12; It's Been a Long, Long Time; You Made Me Love You; Cherry; Sleepy Lagoon , and eight more.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: August 24, 1999
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B00000JYQY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,256 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jon Warshawsky on October 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Yes, these are remakes of some of Harry James' great songs from the 1930s, but it is great to hear James recorded on first-rate Capitol Records equipment in the mid-1950s. Big Band music is wonderful, and this is much more rewarding to listen to than the scratchy old masters from 20 years earlier.
More importantly -- this album MOVES. Of course James' trumpet is the star, but Helen Forrest's vocals work perfectly on the several tracks where she appears. Too often, remakes are pale shadows of the original, but in this case Trumpet Blues stands strongly as (1) a great, mostly uptempo album with classic James tunes and (2) an acceptably high fidelity recording.
If you have never bought a Harry James album, this would be a good place to start -- a solid introduction to his music, without the distraction of the uneven early recordings. Be assured it is really James playing, not someone else trying to pay tribute!
Recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
This compilation came out in 1999, the same year the top selling James biography, TRUMPET BLUES, THE LIFE OF HARRY JAMES, by Peter J. Levinson was published. It is a compilation of some of Harry's top selling singles which just happened to include some fabulous vocals by Helen Forrest, one of the many top vocalists who recorded with the legendary trumpeter.
Harry James was, without question, the undisputed king of the trumpet and the most commercially successful big band leader of the '40's, '50's, '60's, "70's and early "80's. As a trumpeter, he was without peer. Long an admirer of, but unlike, Louis Armstrong and Mugsy Spanier, James had an unmatchable mastery of his instrument, having studied long and diligently with his trumpet playing dad, Everette. Tutored in all the repertoire of the world's great trumpet players, James was a virtuoso at the age of 14. At 16 he was on the road with territory bands playing the lead book. At 20 he was hired as the lead and jazz chair with the Benny Goodman band. At 23 he was leading his own big band. In his brilliant jazz soloing, James incorporated the basic early blues style of Armstrong, Spanier and Bix Beiderbecke with a dazzling technique. He went on to win the "Jazz Trumpet" and "Band" category in the DOWNBEAT and the METRONOME magazine artist's polls for a number of years. He was the idol of such later diverse talents as Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, Miles Davis, Arturo Sandoval and Clifford Brown. He was the star of his band with all his arrangements built around his incomparable trumpet style. Starting out as principally a hot jazz band he could not get bookings at top hotels and supper clubs that favored quieter "sweet" bands.
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Format: Audio CD
Why was it that Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, Clark Terry and Adolph Herseth all have sung praises of Harry James? One need only buy this CD to find out. Although many of the songs included are reworkings of his earlier hits using modern recording technology, the updates are truly thrilling! Take a listen to "James Session" and hear how one can be astounded by just a trumpeter and a drummer playing. A solid CD throughout, and when you get done with this, check out the "Jazz Masters" CD on Verve which explores HJ's forays into hard bop ala Clifford Brown and Fats Navarro. Then dig way into your pockets and pick up "Bandstand Memories" which features unreleased "air checks" that HJ and his band would play prior to going "live" on the radio broadcasts in the '40's. When you listen to these and realize he was playing these charts LIVE without a net, you will shake your head in wonder.

Harry James was...and still is....unfairly judged by critics who have a hard time with a jazz artist who was willing to play what the paying public wanted to hear instead of what the critics wanted. The thing was, HJ could have it both ways without diluting either sensibility. Impeccable musicianship, taste, technique and execution, and a set of chops that have yet to be truly equalled. And I say that with all due respect to Faddis, Chase, Ferguson, Gozzo and Anderson. Clark Terry once exclaimed "Harry was a BITCH!". Doc Severinsen recalls, "Nothing was ever hard for Harry".

As a connosseuer of HJ recordings, I can state the sides included here are sharp, well balanced, and in some cases exceed the quality of the originals. You will not be disappointed, whether you are a novice listener or a seasoned fan.
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Format: Audio CD
a nicely mastered rehash of the re-recordings James did for Capitol in 1955 of his 40's hits. Capitol was kind enough to sneak in a couple tracks from his 1957 comeback band featuring Buddy Rich. Mosaic records has the rest of that band's recordings in a seven-disk set but a single disk from Capitol would be much appreciated. If it's good music why not put it out?
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Yes, these are 1950s hi-fidelity recordings of Harry James playing the original charts of his older hits from the 1930s and 1940s. But modern recording technology is worthless if WHAT you're recording wasn't good in the first place. A bad song by a bad performer isn't going to get better just because you re-record them in stereo. In the the case of Trumpet Blues: The Best of Harry James, the original material and the talent of the artists was top notch, so these "modern" recordings from the 1950s are simply great! My trumpet playing dad owned the original hits on 78 rpm records. He then bought these tracks on vinyl albums when they came out in the '50s. I've now purchased this CD and I am VERY satisfied with the sound, the talent and the material. Sure, Harry's fans can debate the finer points of whether particular nuances of the original performances were carried forward to these recordings. On the other hand, an argument can be made that these recordings provide new touches that make the originals even better. My own subjective opinion is that these Trumpet Blues recordings are well worth owning because they are an honest attempt to be faithful to the originals and the sound is head and shoulders above the fidelity of the original recordings. The sound is bright and there is great "presence" to the recording. It seems to me that if the performers involved were satisfied with these re-recordings of original hits (and from what I've read, they were), we should be satisfied, as well. There are plenty of Harry James recordings to own (and I own many), but I would say this one is a "must have."
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