Mills Blue Rhythm Band

1934-1936

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AllMusic Review by

The fourth of the European Classics label's five CDs containing the complete output of the Mills Blue Rhythm Band captures the underrated orchestra at the peak of their powers. Formerly a no-name outfit, trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen, trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, clarinetist Buster Bailey, and tenor saxophonist Joe Garland were the group's star soloists by this time. In addition, by the last eight numbers on this highly recommended program, altoist Tab Smith was also part of the band. The CD starts off with three numbers on which singer Chuck Richards is backed by a sextet including Allen, Bailey, and trombonist Benny Morton. Otherwise the program features the full orchestra (directed by Lucky Millinder by this time). There are many exciting tracks along with a few ballad vocal features for Richards, with the more memorable performances including "Spitfire," "Ride Red Ride," "Congo Caravan," "There's Rhythm in Harlem" (which hints at the then-unwritten "In the Mood"), "Truckin'," and "E Flat Stride." This is the best of the five Classics Blue Rhythm releases.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:52
2 2:43
3 2:55
4 2:45
5 2:59
6 3:09
7 2:57
8 3:00
9 2:55
10 2:38
11 3:04
12 2:31
13
2:37
14 2:43
15 3:05
16 2:39
17 3:00
18
3:00
19
2:40
20
2:51
21 2:42
22
2:55
23 3:04
24
3:13
blue highlight denotes track pick