Sharkey Bonano was a straightforward New Orleans trumpeter who could be relied upon to lead driving ensembles and play hot, melodic solos. This definitive CD features Bonano in 1928 on two numbers with Johnnie Miller's New Orleans Frolickers and on four songs from the same year with Monk Hazel's Bienville Roof Orchestra; both of the early sessions were recorded in New Orleans and feature plenty of strong solos and memorable melodies. The bulk of this reissue contains the 14 numbers recorded by Sharkey and his Sharks of Rhythm during 1936-1937 in New York. Bonano's recording band changes personnel a lot during the four sessions and includes such top players as pianists Armand Hug, Clyde Hart, and Joe Bushkin; trombonists Santo Pecora and George Brunies; clarinetists Irving Fazola and Joe Marsala; drummers Ben Pollack and George Wettling; and even the rhythm guitar of Eddie Condon. Dixieland standards mix in with jumping originals and, during an era dominated by swing-oriented big bands, these combo jams were a bit unusual. The CD is rounded out by four selections (including "I Never Knew What a Gal Could Do") by trombonist Santo Pecora's Back Room Boys, which are similar in feel to the Bonano numbers, although Shorty Sherock is on trumpet. Since Sharkey's next recordings as a leader would not be until 1949, this is a particularly valuable reissue for trad and Dixieland fans.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow