After Jimmie Lunceford's death on July 12, 1947 (reportedly of poisoning by a disgruntled racist owner of a restaurant who was mad at being forced to feed Lunceford and his musicians), his orchestra struggled on under the leadership of pianist Ed Wilcox and tenor saxophonist Joe Thomas. The band's final 18 recordings (very rare numbers cut for the Manor, Dot, and Perception labels) are on this CD. The orchestra was still potentially strong, featuring fine high-note trumpet work from Paul Webster, clarinetist Omer Simeon, and Thomas on tenor and vocals. But without their leader, it was a losing battle for the ghost orchestra. To the credit of Wilcox and Thomas, the band's last recordings do not feature recreations of past glories but instead look ahead to the potential future, with some R&B-ish jams and jivey vocal numbers; unfortunately there would be no further hits. This intriguing CD concludes with a two-part version of "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano" from 1942 by a completely unidentified orchestra, under the title of "A Tribute to Jimmie Lunceford."
by Scott Yanow