Rex Stewart

1949

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This fifth volume in the Classics Rex Stewart chronology offers up material that most people outside of Australia probably haven't heard before. In November and December 1949 Stewart recorded with the local jazz talent in Sydney and Melbourne. After tossing down a couple of swing standards to get acquainted, Rex Stewart and his "Sydney Six" loosened up and created a bop-inflected version of "Lady Be Good," a lovely, languid "Caribbean Cradle Song," and "Boog It Jack," a handsome boogie-woogie composed by pianist Jack Allen. Stewart spontaneously created a languid blues entitled "Sydney Sobs" to close out this perfect example of a session that started awkwardly and got progressively better. Four tracks cut for the Jazzart label in Melbourne were duly issued as by "Rex Stewart and his JazzArt-Ists." Right from the get-go, this band sounds a bit more closely knit and well-integrated than their cousins in Sydney. Stewart sounds delighted to be jamming hard in the company of a tenor saxophonist named Splinter and a trombonist named Slush. Twelve selections recorded in live performance by Rex Stewart with Graeme Bell & His Australian Jazz Band form the real heart of this compilation, beginning with a dazzling singalong version of "Shake It and Break It." There's also a snappy old-fashioned bout of vocal harmony during "Old Grey Bonnet" and three consecutive vocals by Rex Stewart himself.

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