Pianist Buddy Johnson is best-known for leading a swinging, R&B-oriented big band in the late 1940s and '50s that, with his sister Ella Johnson as the main star, introduced "Since I Fell for You." On this CD from the European Classics label, Johnson's first 24 numbers recorded as a leader are reissued and most of the tracks were previously quite hard to come by. At the time Buddy Johnson was an Earl Hines-influenced pianist who was searching for his own sound. A few numbers feature vocals by the so-so Mack Sisters and various bandmembers including the leader himself, but it is the songs with Ella Johnson (particularly "Please, Mister Johnson" and "It's the Gold") that stand out. During the two-year period covered by this CD, Johnson's band grew from a septet to a nonet, but the glory years were still in the future.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow