In 1992, Pro Arte released an 18-track collection of recordings made during the '30s by Hal Kemp and His Orchestra, a dance band that had its roots in the hot jazz of the '20s and investments in the sweet sounds of Depression-era pop music as well as the streamlined intricacies of well-arranged swing, a style soon to be perfected by the John Kirby Sextet and manifested here under the banners of Reginald Forsythe (composer of "Serenade for a Wealthy Widow" and "Dodging a Divorcee") and Raymond Scott (who wrote "Siberian Sleighride" and "In an 18th Century Drawing Room"). Kemp's band is well represented on this disc, which is recommended by the charm of "Love for Sale," "Moon with a Hangover" "Lamplight," and "It's Only a Paper Moon." Vocals are by Hal Kemp and his Swing-A-Roosters, the Smoothies, Bob Allen, Maxine Grey, Deane Janis, Janet Blair and a fellow with the unenviable name of Skinnay Ennis, a chortler who puts over "Gloomy Sunday (The Famous Hungarian Suicide Song)" and the peevish novelty "So You Left Me for the Leader of a Swing Band." While searching for this album you will probably bump into a 25-track Living Era collection bearing exactly the same title. Even though the two have eight songs in common, those who wish to immerse themselves in the Hal Kemp experience are encouraged to shoot for the moon, cast discretion to the winds, and secure copies of both editions.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf