In the late '20s, jazz had become such an influential force in popular music that even the straightest dance bands used aspects of jazz's rhythms and chancetaking spirit. There was a countless number of recordings during the period from temporarily popular but long-forgotten bands, including the seven ensembles featured on this collector's CD. Paul Tremaine's Orchestra, Henny Hendrickson's Louisville Serenaders, Tal Henry's North Carolinians, and the orchestras of Phil Baxter, Billy Hays, and Doc Daugherty were not destined for fame, but each ensemble left behind music that can be enjoyed over 70 years later. The one famous name featured on this CD, Kay Kyser, is heard at the beginning of his career leading an orchestra that had little in common with his later commercially successful radio band. The music overall emphasizes written ensembles with plenty of swinging, years before the swing era. Solo space is brief, and there are no real individual heroics, but the quality of the music is mostly pretty high. Most interesting are Tremaine's "Four-Four Rhythm" (with its topical lyrics about the change in musical styles from a few years earlier); the pioneering harp solo by Lester Cruman on "Aristocratic Stomp"; "Without That Gal"; "Tell Her"; the looseness in Baxter's ensembles on "I Ain't Got No Gal Now"; the novelty "I'm Wild About Horns on Automobiles"; and Doc Daugherty's spots on baritone. The one fault of this CD is in its programming, which skips all over the place between the bands; one will have to program their CD player in order to focus on a single band at a time. Otherwise, 1920s jazz and dance band enthusiasts will want this set, along with the many other vintage reissues put out by The Old Masters.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow