1937 was the year Bunny Berigan went out on his own as a bandleader. He had cut his teeth with Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman, before paving the way to his own big band career with some small group sessions in 1936. On the heels of several if these combo dates, Berigan teamed up with such stellar players as tenor saxophonist George Auld, trombonist Sonny Lee, drummer George Wettling, and clarinetist Joe Dixon to begin one of the more overlooked swing outfits of the late '30s. While not always on par with such highly original groups as those led by Ellington, Lunceford, and Goodmam, Berigan's band did deliver over 100 quality sides for RCA between 1937-1939. This Classics roundup focuses on that monumental first year, with such highlights as "I Can't Get Started," "Frankie and Johnny," "Mahogany Hall Stomp," and "Black Bottom." For fans looking to follow Berigan's chronological trail, do yourself a favor and start out of sequence with this collection.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook