Charlie Barnet

1937-1939

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AllMusic Review by

Charlie Barnet started making records in 1933. While building his band and expanding its repertoire he used a lot of pop vocalists and even sang some of the songs himself. "Shame On You" is Barnet's 12th and last appearance on record as a vocalist in this part of the chronology. His prior experience as a movie actor served him well, as he warmly administered each song with what could be described as "stage presence." Many of the singers heard throughout the chronologically reissued recordings of Charlie Barnet are frankly less interesting to listen to than Barnet himself. Kathleen Long and Kurt Bloom are only incidental to the tracks they sing on; the best thing about "He Walked Right In" is the way the bandmembers swing as if they were participating in a jam session for the Commodore label. With all due respect for the singing abilities of Judy Ellington, real jazz heads might begin to feel that they keep stumbling over pop vocals while seeking out the excellent instrumentals that abound in Barnet's recordings of the late '30s. This particular volume contains a veritable gold mine in a full dozen selections uncluttered by singers mouthing Tin Pan Alley lyrics. Half of the tracks reissued here are instrumentals, more than on any of the other volumes in this series covering Barnet's output from 1933 through 1940. Five out of seven titles recorded for the Variety label in August of 1937 are lively jams without crooners, and the band is fortified by the presence of the great trumpeter Frankie Newton. Credited here to someone named Wrubel, "Emperor Jones" is better known as Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol's "Jubilesta," also known as "Moonlight Fiesta," also known as "Puerto Rican Chaos" (might as well slap a fourth title on it). Pianist Joe Myrow composed "Surrealism," a quirky study with Latin beats sounding like something by Raymond Scott or maybe Red Norvo in a strange mood. Barnet seems not to have made any commercial studio recordings during the year 1938. In January of 1939, his band began performing at the Famous Door, a popular nightclub on 52nd Street. They also resumed making records for Bluebird, grinding out three exceptionally fine instrumentals on January 20th. These include an elegant big-band swing adaptation of the old "Tin Roof Blues" and a wild, hard-swinging ride called "Knockin' at the Famous Door," during which Barnet takes a lot of nimble risks with his saxophone. February and March were hot times for this band, as it cooked up the "Swing Street Strut" -- a rolling boil for jitterbugs -- and managed excellent interpretations of Duke Ellington's "The Gal from Joe's," Slim Gaillard's "Jump Session," and Juan Tizol's beautiful "Night Song."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:52
2 2:26
3 2:44
4 2:37
5 2:32
6 2:49
7 2:45
8
2:44
9
2:53
10
2:46
11 2:57
12 2:54
13 3:05
14 3:00
15 3:22
16 3:16
17 2:25
18 2:59
19 3:14
20 2:48
21 3:12
22 2:35
23 2:41
24 2:29
blue highlight denotes track pick