Harry James & His Orchestra

First-Team Player on the Jazz Varsity

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This perfectly done two-LP set (which should be reissued in full on CD) was put out by Muse on their Savoy subsidiary in 1987. Included are all 31 of the recordings that Harry James and his orchestra recorded for the Varsity label during 1940; if only Columbia treated their recordings by the great swing trumpeter with as much wisdom. Recorded just prior to when James's orchestra caught on (it would be the most popular in the world during 1942-45), these sessions have short solos from altoist Dave Matthews, Vido Musso on tenor, and pianist Jack Gardner, along with vocals from Dick Haymes, but one's attention is consistently grabbed by the full ensemble, particularly James' colorful trumpet. Highly recommended if it can be found.