Various Artists

Big Little Bands

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The long out-of-print LPs put out by the now-defunct Onyx label in the 1970s focused attention on a wide, variety of small group swing and bop recordings from the 1940s and '50s. For this album there are four selections apiece from four different groups. The great singer Jimmy Rushing is backed by a band mostly full of ex-Count Basie sidemen (including trombonist Vic Dickenson and tenor-saxophonist Buddy Tate), Don Redman heads a big band in 1946 that stars trumpeter Hot Lips Page and tenor-great Don Byas, trumpeter Russell Jacquet fronts a fine jump band from 1947 that includes a young Dexter Gordon and tenor veteran Joe Thomas leads a swing sextet. None of the performances are particularly well-known, making this album (and most of Onyx's releases) very attractive to bop collectors.