By the autumn of 1941, Benny Goodman's orchestra had taken on a polished, slightly oily aspect that was quite different from the bands he'd led a few years earlier. Pianist Mel Powell was now the arranger, Peggy Lee sang on most of the records, and the focus of the material often drifted away from authentically swinging jazz to include quite a number of pop tunes. This tendency is most dramatically demonstrated by two consecutive versions of "Buckle Down, Winsocki," with its John Philip Sousa intro and jocular group vocal. Although the arrangement gets hipper in midstream, one would never guess that the great Cootie Williams was in the band. Maybe nobody did -- Williams left in mid-October, knocking the trumpet section down more than one peg. Near the end of the month, Goodman's sextet rendered up a lovely version of "If I Had You" and a bubbling "Limehouse Blues." Most of the titles reissued here originally appeared on the OKeh label. A little-known version of "Jersey Bounce" was recorded in January 1942 and issued on V-Disc, the 12" lightweight "unbreakable" record designed especially for overseas use by armed forces personnel. Benny Goodman would find himself cutting quite a number of V-Discs between 1943 and 1945.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf