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Harry James: The Music Maker - A Centenary Tribute, His 50 Finest



Celebrating the centenary on 15th March of Harry James (1915-1983), this Retrospective compilation of 50 classics throws renewed light on a trumpeter who belongs amongst the very greatest in all of jazz music. The survey covers every aspect of his fabulous career, from his first recording sessions as a 21-year-old with Ben Pollack’s band (Spreadin’ Knowledge Around – already with a salvo-level solo), through to joyful examples of “Double Dixie” from 1962 with Matty Matlock (Weather Bird Rag). And all steps in between. These include his breakthrough as a member of Benny Goodman’s Orchestra (Sugar Foot Stomp), and with Teddy Wilson (Just A Mood). He formed his own orchestra in 1939, and thereafter every track has his dominant leadership stamped upon it. You Made Me Love You made him a household name in 1942, revealing the schmaltz that was an essential part of his repertoire – as was the staggering virtuosity displayed in such non-jazz items as The Flight Of The Bumble Bee. Then there was a certain 1939 recording made with a young Frank Sinatra that suddenly became a smash in 1943, All Or Nothing At All. Harry, of course, always had a superior cast of vocalists, and there are prime examples here of Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest, Kitty Kallen, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney . . . and even wife No.2, Betty Grable. But, above all, Harry James was a hot jazz player par excellence, and the two discs are full of superlative examples of his artistry. Harry James – Retrospective salutes you!

Harry James: The Music Maker - A Centenary Tribute, His 50 Finest


Harry James was born on March 15, 1916 and his early life as the musical prodigy child of circus entertainers is well known. As the excellent liner notes by Digby Fairweather point out, James was on the road with territory bands from the age of 16 before joining Ben Pollack and subsequently Benny Goodman in 1937. Some of these early tracks like the sublime slow blues

JUST A MOOD with the Teddy Wilson Quartet show the young James entirely in command of the possibilities of his instrument. The disc finishes with two tracks from 1962, MY INSPIRATION and WEATHER BIRD RAG, the latter a King Oliver/Louis Armstrong tune which brings the collection back where it started with a taste of Dixieland. An immensely appealing collection which has been astutely compiled by Ray Crick and of course, beautifully remastered by the late great Alan Bunting. In Tune International