Harry James is superbly honored by this chronologically stacked Best of Jazz anthology released in 1999. High on the list of all-time best Harry James compilations, it covers a time line from July 6, 1937 to November 13, 1944. The first eight selections showcase the young trumpeter as a sideman with Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton. "Home James," dating from February 1, 1939, is the first of 14 choice performances showcasing the Harry James Orchestra at its very best. Most of these are hot, danceable swing tunes; only a few have strings attached, and this is just enough to provide a taste of the chamber music aspect of James. The "fiddles," as Billie Holiday would have called them, never intrude or get in the way. James handled European classical repertoire and instrumentation with taste and dexterity. His fearless foray into Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee fits neatly among hot numbers like "Two O Clock Jump," "Mole," "Flash" and the "Back Beat Boogie." Note also the very hip Ben Webster/Rex Stewart-like nature of "Strictly Instrumental," later to serve as a marvelous template for the vocalese of Eddie Jefferson. Looking for a really outstanding Harry James collection? On the level, folks, it doesn't get much better than this.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Teddy Wilson
feat: Benny Goodman