This eighth installment in the Classics Harry James chronology assembles all of his Columbia studio recordings made between February 24 and July 22, 1942, beginning with four superb instrumentals. "By the Sleepy Lagoon," a pretty tone poem later parodied by Spike Jones as "Sloppy Lagoon," is followed with the boogie-woogie-based "Trumpet Blues and Cantabile," a slow sweet "Easter Parade," and an eminently danceable version of "Crazy Rhythm." One change that occurred in 1941 was the departure of tenor saxophonist Vido Musso and the arrival of young Gene "Corky" Corcoran. Much more noticeably, James was continuing to modify the sound of his band with instrumentation most often associated with European classical music. By now the string quartet (first added in January 1941) had expanded into a quintet with the addition of a third violin; Willard Culley began blowing French horn with the Harry James Orchestra on the session of June 5th, and by July 15th the string section had swollen to six fiddles and a cello. There are quite a number of delectable vocals by Helen Forrest (as well as a handful of less substantial ones by Jimmy Saunders) but the most useful and enduring tracks are the instrumentals, during which the interplay of rhythm, reeds, brass, and strings works uncommonly well.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf