Fletcher Henderson

Fletcher Henderson with Slam Stewart and the Jazz Tones

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This has always been a great mystery LP, not helped by the absence of any liner notes or discographical details. Its title is inaccurate, since it actually consists of separate four-song sessions by Fletcher Henderson and bassist Slam Stewart, plus two tunes from "The Jazz Tones." The Henderson date (from October 31, 1945) was the pianist/arranger's final session with a big band. The music (which has solo spots for trumpeter Emmett Berry, trombonist Vic Dickenson and tenor saxophonist Otis Finch) is worthwhile (particularly a shouting version of "King Porter Stomp"), but the recording quality (which has the orchestra sounding as if it was a half block away from the microphone) is absymal despite it being a studio recording. Slam Stewart is heard with his 1946 quartet (a group also including pianist Billy Taylor, guitarist John Collins and drummer Harold "Doc" West) in an equally rare session. The "Jazztones" (a phony name) is actually a 1959 septet that includes trumpeter Buck Clayton, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, trombonist Dickenson and tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman. Its two numbers (which were also put out by Crown) were given incorrect titles ("School's Out" is really "Synthetic Blues," while "Goodbye Big Town" is "Billboard March"). In summary, this long-out-of-print budget LP has good music but horrendous packaging; hopefully it will be reissued properly in the future.