Although by 1946 Erskine Hawkins no longer had any hit records in the future (1945's Tippin' In was his last one), his orchestra was still one of the best in jazz. Most of the 22 selections on this 1998 CD (the sixth in Classics' complete Hawkins series) are obscure but quite worthwhile. There are vocals on 13 of the songs (four by Jimmy Mitchelle, one from Ruth Christian, Ace Harris sounding spirited on "Well Natch," and seven easy-to-take vocals by Laura Washington) but it is the nine instrumentals that take honors. Although there are hints of bebop in the later records from 1947, most of the music on this CD is still very much in the swing vein. Taken as a whole, there is ample evidence here for the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra to be rated as one of the finest (and most underrated) big bands of the 1946-47 period. The key soloists in the orchestra are Hawkins and Sammy Lowe on trumpets, Matthew Gee on trombone, altoist Bobby Smith, Julian Dash on tenor, and baritonist Haywood Henry who is often heard on clarinet. Highlights include "Sneakin' Out," "Feelin' Low," "Needle Points," and "Lazy Blues." Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow