Jazz is an innately diverse international art form. It shape-shifts by mingling and interacting with every cultural manifestation with which it comes into contact. In 1999 the Harlequin label -- by far the world's most accomplished purveyor of meticulously researched and well-documented historic international reissue compilations -- released a 25-track anthology of rare and unusual European swing recordings made between 1936 and 1948 that demonstrates most dramatically the impact that jazz had upon the population of continental Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Straits of Gibraltar. Opening with "Shades of Hades" as performed by Swiss saxophonist/violinist Teddy Stauffer & the Teddies, this amazing collection takes the listener through such diverse locales as Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Moscow, Prague, Hilversum, Brussels, Zurich, Budapest, Vienna and Barcelona. Participants in this pre- and post-WWII continental survey include U.S. born stride pianist Joe Turner; Sweden's Ake Fagerlund and his Lisebergsorkester Goteberg; Belgian pianist and jazz pioneer Stan Brenders and L'Orchestre Jazz as well as pianist Jaroslav Jezek (known in his day as "The Czech Gershwin") and his Jezkuv Swing Band. There are ensembles led by Swedish trumpeter Thore Ehrling, Belgian cornetist Gus Deloof and Dutch drummer Klaas van Beeck. Anyone lucky enough to obtain a copy of this disc gets to hear Budapest's Eddy Buttler (saxophonist Ede Buttola) and his Jolly Boys; a Hungarian big band under the direction of Jeno Orlay-Obendorfer, popularly known as Chappy; and a Swiss jazz ensemble fronted by Fred Bohler that featured Missouri-born ex-Jelly Roll Morton/Luis Russell/King Oliver reedman Glyn Paque. Czech pianist Slava Emanuel Novácek and his "Svym Orchestrem" jammed on something called "Hrály Dudy"; this title translates as "The Bagpipe Played." A spirited rendition of the "St. Louis Blues" was recorded under what must have been terrifically challenging conditions in Moscow during the year 1943 by a band working for Polish violinist Eddie Rosner (this group was identified on the original record as "Gos. Dzhaz-Ork. Bssr P.U. Eddi Rozner"). Swedish bandleader Lulle Ellbojs, who recorded with U.S. trumpeter and vocalist Valaida Snow in 1939, may be heard leading his "Orkester" in live performance at Stockholm's Vinterpalast in 1944. Ray Ventura, a French bandleader on par with England's Jack Hylton, revealed a Louis Jordan influence by recording a version of "Caldonia" in Brussels during the spring of 1946; as a token of the enduring U.S. presence in postwar Europe, this item was originally released on the Victory label. Also in apparent celebration of the fall of the Third Reich, German clarinetist/saxophonist Horst Winter's Wiener Tanzorchester recorded a swinging paean to "Gin Fizzes." Spanish trumpeter and violinist José Ribalta & His Muchachos made a Regal record at some point in 1944 or 1945; translation of the title, "Teclado al Rojo," reveals it as none other than Count Basie's famous "Red Bank Boogie." Most of these recordings are available on Harlequin's multifaceted Jazz and Hot Dance Series.
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