Boyd Raeburn, who was not much of a musician himself, was wise enough to use the work of some very advanced arrangers when his big band was at its prime (1945-1947). Perhaps it was not all that wise, since the Raeburn Orchestra never became a commercial success, but its recordings still sound fresh and unpredictable today. This particular CD features some of Raeburn's top radio appearances of 1945-1946 (mostly formerly put out by the British Swing House label on LP), with arrangements provided by the highly individual avant-gardist George Handy, Eddie Finckel, a young Johnny Mandel, and (in the case of "A Night in Tunisia") Dizzy Gillespie. The music is quite adventurous with the 19 selections including "Tonsillectomy," an eccentric rendition of "Temptation," "Boyd Meets Stravinsky," "Rip Van Winkle," and "The Hep Boyds." Soloists including tenor-saxophonist Lucky Thompson, trumpeter Ray Linn, trombonist Britt Woodman, and pianist Dodo Marmarosa, with heroic vocals (considering what is going on behind them!) by Ginnie Powell, David Allyn, and Jackie Searle. In addition there is a version of "Caravan" by the Ray Linn Octet (featuring Harry Klee pretty prominently on flute) and two appearances by Mel Torme and the Meltones. Fascinating music that never became influential but still sounds a bit futuristic over 55 years later.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow