During the time covered by this CD, Benny Goodman was stricken with sciatica and had to break up his big band for a few months. When he came back, his new orchestra only retained a few of the earlier musicians. This disc has the last recordings by his original big band (which he had formed in 1934) and has two different versions of his small group; his new big band did not record until November 13. Fortunately, Benny Goodman was wise enough to retain the services of the great electric guitarist Charlie Christian, who is heard in the earlier sextet with Lionel Hampton and the later septet with trumpeter Cootie Williams, tenor saxophonist Georgie Auld, and guest pianist Count Basie. The combo tracks include "Air Mail Special" and "Boy Meets Goy," "Royal Garden Blues," "As Long As I Live," and the riff-filled "Benny's Bugle." The better big band selections include "Crazy Rhythm" and "Mister Meadowlark" (featuring Helen Forrest). Fred Astaire has a guest vocal (and a bit of tap dancing) on "Who Cares."
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow