This fourth volume in the Classics Mildred Bailey chronology presents all of her Vocalion recordings made between April 19 and December 8, 1938. This was the big time for Bailey and her xylophonist husband Red Norvo; of the many records they made together, those issued under Norvo's name appear in his own Classics chronology, and everything that came out under the heading of Mildred Bailey & Her Orchestra has been assigned to her own portion of this label's historical reissue series. Most of Mildred's 1938 recordings found her comfortably backed by Red Norvo's big band; two important names in this well-knit ensemble were clarinetist Hank D'Amico and drummer George Wettling. On September 29, 1938, Red Norvo and Mildred Bailey made an excellent pair of recordings with the John Kirby Sextet. Certainly this little group's rendering of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" belongs with some of Mildred Bailey's all-time greatest recorded performances. Human error presents collectors with a potentially confusing conundrum: according to a footnote amended to Classics 1225 [Mildred Bailey 1939-1940], the version of "St. Louis Blues" heard here was actually recorded on January 18, 1939, which means it should have appeared on Classics 1187 [Mildred Bailey 1939]. Initially rejected by the folks at Vocalion, the "St. Louis Blues" recorded on September 29, 1938 has been grafted onto Classics 1225. Both versions are excellent. Got that?
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf