Benny Goodman: Giants of the Big Band Era

The Acrobat Music label has been leasing and putting out vintage jazz from a variety of sources. Of its most recent eight sets, Benny Goodman’s Giants of the Big Band Era includes 18 studio recordings that made the charts during 1935-46 (no great surprises); Glenn Miller and the Andrews Sisters have their joint radio appearances from 1939-40 (until Miller became such a big name that the Andrews Sisters were no longer needed); Frank Sinatra’s On the Radio consists of some of the radio appearances from Sinatra’s intriguing transitional period of 1949-50; and Rosemary Clooney’s On the Air shows that her radio transcriptions of 1951-52 were much more rewarding than most of the singer’s commercial studio recordings of the time. Also of interest are Carmen McRae’s Live at the Flamingo Jazz Club (originally an Ember LP that features her in fine voice during a set in 1961) and Sarah Vaughan/Woody Herman On the Radio, which finds Sassy consistently stealing the show in 1963.

Most rewarding are the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s On the Radio: Live 1956-57 and the Miles Davis All Stars’ Broadcast Sessions 1958-59. The Brubeck material, which was formerly put out on LPs by Jazz Band, features Paul Desmond in top form and contrasting drumming by Joe Dodge and Joe Morello. The Miles Davis CD features all of the Kind of Blue group’s radio appearances of the period (mostly out previously on bootlegs) plus the soundtrack of a televised jam session version of “What Is This Thing Called Love” with Gerry Mulligan, Nat Adderley and other guests. It adds to the legacy of the short-lived band and is a treasure that all true jazz archivists will want.