Various Artists

Grandi Solisti, Vol. 1

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In the early 1980's, this Italian label (marketed by Fonitcetra) came out with at least ten LPs of mostly formerly rare performances that were cut in the mid-1940's as V-Discs, specially made records cut for American servicemen stationed overseas. This album (which, as the others do, has liner notes in Italian, but easy-to-comprehend discographical information) is filled with hot swing performances including Coleman Hawkins (backed by Art Tatum) performing "My Ideal," a couple of heated numbers by trumpeter Roy Eldridge, a rare selection ("Hello, Goodbye, Forget It") from the Jimmy Mundy big band and four well-rounded selections (including a definitive "Manhattan" and the Dixieland-ish "Muskrat Ramble") from Jimmy Dorsey's Orchestra. On the minus side are a couple of so-so vocal numbers that showcase the Sentimentalists backed by Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra, and heated but unfortunately rather scratchy renditions of "Peanuts from Heaven" (by the rarely heard 1946 Fletcher Henderson Orchestra) and Cootie Williams' 1941 studio rendition of "West End Blues" (which is available in better shape elsewhere). Despite the minuses, this is a hard-to-find LP that swing fans will certainly want due to the many superior obscurities.