This is the first CD from the French Classics reissue series showcasing drummer Buddy Rich as a big-band leader. These 22 titles were recorded between 1946 and 1948 with several of them being V-discs. The tight arrangements of Tadd Dameron, Neil Hefti, Eddie Finckel, Bill Channon, and Turk Van Lake are strict yet thoroughly swinging ensemble playing. Even though Rich led this big band, he does not take center stage over the entire outcome. His Frank Sinatra-influenced vocals are heard here along with those of Dorothy Reid and Linda Larkin. During this three-year period his bands included the likes of Johnny Mandel, Red Rodney, Hal McKusick, Jimmy Giuffre, Warne Marsh, and Allen Eager. With the proven talent heard here it's a shame Rich couldn't sustain his ensembles, but finding gigs as the big-band era was drawing to a close made it economically unfeasible. Rich would not attempt to lead another big band until 1966.
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AllMusic Review by Al Campbell