After Anita O'Day suddenly quit his band in 1946, Gene Krupa went out looking for a replacement female vocalist. He discovered Carolyn Grey performing with a no-name intermission band and hired her at once. Grey, who also sang with Woody Herman and Sonny Dunham, had a pleasant voice and may be heard at her best on "Old Devil Moon," the opening track of this 14th installment in the complete chronologically reissued works of Gene Krupa on Classics. These recordings, made in New York and Los Angeles between January 1947 and January 1949, all originally appeared on 78-rpm 10" red label Columbia records. During this portion of Krupa's career, stylistic adjustments were made to modernize the overall sound of the band. Gerry Mulligan's arrangement of his and Krupa's collaborative opus "Disc Jockey Jump" meets all the requirements of big-band bop. "By the River St. Marie" was the marvelously solid flip side of Columbia 38590. It's worth noting that some of the best solos on this compilation come from the saxophone section. As popular tastes demanded increasingly large quantities of sentimental vocals, Krupa employed Tom Berry and Buddy Hughes, a couple of standard-issue male crooners. Yet by the end of 1947, Krupa's band was sounding positively progressive, with flashy original compositions and arrangements by Eddie Finckel. Carolyn Grey had been replaced by Delores Hawkins, a comparatively deep-voiced individual who sounds much better here than on a horribly overbearing remake of "Let Me Off Uptown," where she carries on with all the subtlety of Cass Daley. The recordings made on January 26, 1949, feature Hawkins at her best during "Bop Boogie," excellent bop scat vocals from trombonist Frank Rosolino, deep tones from the timpani, and a bongo handler worthy of Machito's Orquesta. On the "exotic" "Similau," Bill Black's conventional crooning is strafed with lightning-quick bop scat runs sung in duet by Rosolino and Hawkins. This music, so emblematic of Krupa's (and Woody Herman's and Charlie Barnet's) passing involvement with bop during the late '40s, adds yet another dimension to the already diverse life and works of Gene Krupa.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf