The recordings of Edgar Hayes have long been scattered to the winds, tucked away in compilations and all but lost in obscure anthologies. The producers of the Classics Chronological Series have done the world a favor by gathering these rare sides together in two volumes for all to study and enjoy. The Edgar Hayes Orchestra sounds smooth and hot on the recordings made for Decca in February of 1938. On "Help Me," Eddie Gibbs contributes a "Hawaiian" guitar intro and Kenny Clarke plays the vibes but sounds like he's working over a xylophone. Clyde Bernhardt, sounding a bit like Jimmy Rushing, sings his own composition, "Without You." James Clay Anderson was a fluttery vocalist similar to Pha Terrell, and sounds silly coming after Bernhardt's soulful take. Hayes plays piano beautifully on this band's excellent instrumental renditions of Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" and Will Hudson's "Sophisticated Swing." Joe Garland's "In the Mood" really changed the face of popular music during the 1930s and early '40s. Based on a lick borrowed from Wingy Manone, the tune became an international hit after Glenn Miller came out with a close cover using the same arrangement about a year and a half after this version was recorded. It was Miller's big break. Meanwhile, Edgar Hayes took some of his band to Sweden, making four records in Stockholm on March 8, 1938, under the heading of Kenny Clarke's Kvintett. Clarke plays vibraphone wonderfully. There are hot solos from trumpeter Henry Goodwin and reedman Rudy Powell. Three of these records are awash with milky vocals by James Clay Anderson and the fourth is a stimulating jam version of "Sweet Sue." It's amazing how much stylistic ground can be covered by a chronological survey of one person's musical career. For a man who began by working with Fess Williams in 1924, led various bands under the names of the Blue Grass Buddies, the Eight Black Pirates, and the Symphonic Harmonists, who played piano and wrote arrangements for the Mills Blue Rhythm Band and led his own jazz orchestra in 1937 and 1938, it must have been frustrating for Hayes to have had to dissolve his band in 1941. According to this discography, eight years transpired before he was able to record again. Leading an intimate rhythm section billed as Edgar Hayes & His Stardusters, the pianist cut a version of "Stardust" for V-Disc in May of 1946 with a vocal by drummer Bryant Allen. The rest of the story took place in Los Angeles, where in 1948 Hayes laid down eight superb tracks with Allen, amplified guitarist Teddy Bunn, and legendary West Coast bassist Curtis Counce. Just as "In the Mood" had an enormous impact on popular music before and during the Second World War, "Fat Meat 'n Greens" would prove to be resoundingly influential throughout the 1950s. "Edgar's Boogie" and five additional groove tunes form a very hip finale to the Edgar Hayes story, with a strong shot of R&B and several unidentified horn players adding their sauce to the mix.
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