Retrospective celebrates the centenary of “Mad Mab” – the saxophonist bandleader Charlie Barnet (1913-1991) – with a superb double CD selection of his great band in full flight during its finest years. He led one of the very best big bands of the 40s. A millionaire playboy, he lived riotously and married, it is said, 11 times. But musically he would not compromise; he always got his way, as in his pioneering employment of black musicians in a 1930s white band.
The Right Idea gives 50 examples of the band in its heyday, led off by his famous theme tune Cherokee. All his best-known tracks are here, such as the big hit Billy May showcase Pompton Turnpike, his No.1 chart success Where Was I? (with Mary Ann McCall’s vocal), and of course the famous 1944 instrumental Skyliner.
Barnet employed a host of the very best swing musicians, many of them featured here. As well as Billy May, his trumpeters included Roy Eldridge and Maynard Ferguson. There was trombonist Tommy Pederson, clarinetist Buddy de Franco, pianist Dodo Marmarosa, and guitarist Barney Kessel among many, many others. Notable among Charlie’s vocalists were such top stars as Lena Horne (You’re My Thrill) and Kay Starr (You Always Hurt The One You Love).