Teddy Wilson

I Want to Be Happy: 1944-1947

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After the wartime recording ban was lifted, Teddy Wilson made several nifty 78s with a succession of swing combos for Musicraft and Standard, as anthologized on this bargain-priced Naxos CD. Ranging in size from trios to octets, these combos mostly do the once-over with the old flag-wavers from the swing era and before, with an occasional concession to the present such as a preview of Kurt Weill's "Moon-Faced, Starry-Eyed" (from "Street Scene"), lit up by the dusky tenor sax of Charlie Ventura. In the 1944-45 quintets and sextets, Charlie Shavers always does pungently delightful things on muted and open trumpet, and Red Norvo's vibes are always on target. Buck Clayton and Ben Webster are an earthier pair of soloists on some 1945-46 sextet sessions, and a 1946 quartet offers a glimpse of the sensually keening 22-year-old Sarah Vaughan on "Time After Time." Throughout, Wilson keeps up a steady stream of impeccable swinging piano licks in a style pretty much unchanged from the 1930s. As in other Naxos Jazz Legends releases, no attempt is made to arrange the numbers in chronological order. But the transfers are honest, ungimmicked, and generally better than what the major labels have offered up in the CD era. This is a good, somewhat off the beaten path historical buy.

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