Billy Eckstine

Blowing the Blues Away

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All of the 1944 Billy Eckstine Orchestra's recordings are on this imported Danish LP. Although Charlie Parker had already departed, otherwise the somewhat revolutionary Eckstine bebop big band was very much intact, including such sidemen as trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Webster and Shorty McConnell, trombonist Trummy Young, altoist Budd Johnson, tenors Wardell Gray (on the first date), Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons, baritonist Leo Parker, Clyde Hart or John Malachi on piano, bassist Oscar Pettiford and Shadow Wilson or Art Blakey on drums. Because the two 1944 sessions were made for the tiny Deluxe label, these important recordings have been scarce through the years (hopefully they will show up on CD eventually) and there is sometimes some surface noise. Most of the tunes feature Eckstine's ballad vocals however the music is often quite special, particularly "Blowing the Blues Away" (heard in two versions and featuring a famous tradeoff by Ammons and Dexter) and "Opus X." This LP is rounded off by Eckstine's two guest appearances (on "How High the Moon" and "St. Louis Blues") with the 1953 Metronome All Stars, exciting jazz-oriented performances which have since been reissued by Verve.

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