This second volume in the Classics Georgie Auld chronology presents all of his studio recordings made between May 24, 1945 and April 30, 1946. Auld's big band shared some stylistic qualities with Billy Eckstine's orchestra; both groups handled the innovations of bop with intelligence and creative precision. The first two tracks on this collection were originally issued on the Guild record label; the rest appeared on Musicraft. Georgie Auld, whose career at times paralleled that of Charlie Barnet, played soprano and alto in addition to his customary tenor saxophone; also like Barnet he was a capable vocalist. There are three examples of Auld's singing voice in this part of the chronology: he delivers a fine rendering of "I Don't Know Why" (once closely associated with Russ Columbo), a tidy take on "Route 66" that closely mimics the version recorded only six weeks earlier by Nat King Cole, and a boppish `big band update of "Honey," an attractive Richard Whiting melody dating from 1928. Nine tracks feature vocalist Lynne Stevens -- she is at her best on Ellington and Strayhorn's "Just A-Settin' and A-Rockin'" -- but the truly substantial element here is the band itself, a 17-piece ensemble working with arrangements penned by Budd Johnson, Tadd Dameron, Al Cohn, Franz Jackson and Neal Hefti. Auld also used Hugo Winterhalter's excellent arrangement of "Time on My Hands," apparently the same chart used by Count Basie in 1942. Note the presence of baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff alongside Cohn and Auld in the reeds; that's Joe Albany and Stan Levey in the rhythm section. The vocal highlight of the whole album is Sarah Vaughan's lovely interpretation of "100 Years from Today," a Victor Young melody with words by Ned Washington published in 1933. Georgie Auld had a really fine big band from 1943-1946, and led an exceptional group during the year 1949. His early-'50s recordings sometimes involve group vocals or lounge atmosphere; by 1955 and 1956 he fronted a group known as the Hollywood All Stars, using arrangements by Billy May. Most of his music is worth the effort it takes to chase it down and soak it up.
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