Jack Teagarden

1940-1941

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Volume four in the complete works of trombonist Jack Teagarden as reissued by Classics contains all of his studio recordings made between February 1940 and January 1941. Most of the 20 selections are by Teagarden's second big band, an entity that came together in 1939 and lasted until 1947. Aside from Mr. T, the one player to really listen for is clarinetist Danny Polo. A scan of the remaining personnel reveals little about this orchestra other than the incidence of memorable names like those of trumpeter Pokey Carriere and trombonist Seymour Goldfinger. Arrangements are attributed to Irving Szathmary (composer of theme music for TV's Get Smart and I'm Dickens, He's Fenster) and African American pianist Phil Moore, who also arranged for Tommy Dorsey and Harry James. There are numerous vocals by Kitty Kallen, Marianne Dunn, and David Allen. The perkiest of these is a version of Eddie Durham and Taps Miller's hepcat staple "Wham (Re-Bop-Boom-Bam!)" While Teagarden & co. did nice things with Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" and "Frenesi," the jazz heart of this album exists in tracks 13-16, which were recorded on December 15, 1940 for the Hot Record Society on 12" 78 rpm platters, allowing for durations exceeding four minutes per side. Teagarden's Big Eight was an uncommonly solid unit composed of strong improvisers, especially Ellingtonian front liners Rex Stewart, Barney Bigard, and Ben Webster. The equally impressive rhythm section consisted of drummer Dave Tough, bassist Billy Taylor, pianist Billy Kyle (a cardinal member of the John Kirby Sextet) and guitarist Brick Fleagle, whose presence almost invariably indicated the presence of his friend and collaborator Rex Stewart. Most of the participants, in fact, had recorded together for HRS five months earlier as Rex Stewart's Big Seven. As an album, this entry in the Classics Teagarden chronology offers four supremely well-crafted traditional jazz numbers and 16 big-band sides garnished with pop vocals.

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