In what appears to be a premonition of the recording industry's postwar fascination with star vocalists, this volume in the Charlie Barnet chronology seems almost like part of the Mary Ann McCall chronology instead. After making a handful of tentative-sounding sides with the band in December of 1939, McCall quickly developed into a stronger and more self-assured vocalist. While sugary sweet at times, her usual mode is snappy, fresh, and cheeky. Barnet's orchestra invariably dishes out excellent backing, and the leader plays fine and sensuous saxophone throughout, but McCall is featured on a whopping 18 of the 24 tracks. Furthermore, Larry Taylor's groaning on "You and Who Else?" knocks the tally of instrumentals down to a paltry five, which feels like a reversion to the vocal pop epidemic of 1936. Anyone hungry for wordless jazz will naturally fasten onto each instrumental track with passionate persistence. Barnet blows tenor sax in proud and skillful emulation of Coleman Hawkins on "A Lover's Lullaby," and "Leapin' at the Lincoln" is a really fine big-band bounce brimming with hot solos. "Shake, Rattle and Roll" features Bus Etri's electrified guitar during the intro -- he also executes a passage of authentic electric blues guitar before McCall's vocal on "Wanderin' Blues," introducing an element quite unusual for a 1940 white big band. "Reminiscing" is a pensive dirge-like apparition and "Flying Home" nearly cuts the Hampton/Goodman original for sheer force and caloric intensity. But this is mainly a Mary Ann McCall disc, ideal for those who enjoy her style of singing.
by arwulf arwulf