This discount-priced two-fer reissue combines two various-artists compilations first released in 1955 on Epic Records. Most of the music dates back even further, as far as the mid-'30s. The compilers at Epic rooted around in the vaults of sister labels Columbia, Brunswick, and OKeh for these collections, which feature performances of a number of song standards ("Stardust," "Dancing in the Dark," "Georgia on My Mind," "Mood Indigo") and a number of major bandleaders (Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw). But there aren't any real hit recordings to speak of. Both Miller and Shaw were contracted to Brunswick in the '30s with their first, unsuccessful bands before they reorganized and signed to RCA Victor's Bluebird imprint for their popular records, so even their contributions here are not among their better known. The collection is dominated by second-echelon names like Will Bradley, Frankie Carle, and Tony Pastor, names now known only to big-band aficionados. There is some pleasant music here, and a few surprises, the most notable of which is Count Basie's punchy arrangement of Miller's "Moonlight Serenade." There are also some ringers, 1950s recordings by Neal Hefti and Leroy Anthony that sound sonically and stylistically out of place. The result is a swing compilation that will have even a few swing fans scratching their heads trying to recall if they ever heard these recordings before.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann