Although the later versions of the Casa Loma Orchestra were better-known, the big band was an early pacesetter during the late '20s/early '30s when (particularly among white orchestra) there were few competitors. This album from the Scottish Hep label has the orchestra's 14 best recordings out of the 21 that they cut during their first six sessions. The main soloists at the time were trumpeters Dub Shoffner and Frankie Martinez, trombonist Pee Wee Hunt and Les Arquette on tenor and clarinet but the main star is Gene Gifford who contributed the bulk of the arrangements and was thereby largely responsible for the group's musical personality. Most memorable are "China Girl," "San Sue Strut," "Casa Loma Stomp" and "Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet" but even the obscurities are quite rewarding. This set is recommended to classic jazz and early swing fans.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow