The warm baritone voice of Billy Eckstine made him one of the most popular vocalists of the '40s and '50s. Although not a jazz singer himself, Eckstine always had a strong sympathy for the music and his championing of a bebop big band during 1944-47 (when he could have made a lucrative living as a single) was quite heroic. This Xanadu LP features Eckstine's earliest recordings, 13 selections taken from his 1940-41 Victor sides with Earl Hines's Orchestra. Ballads naturally dominate but "Jelly, Jelly" (Eckstine's first hit), "The Jitney Man" and "Stormy Monday Blues" are among the more memorable performances. This set is rounded out by three ballads taken from a 1945 broadcast with his own big band. Bop collectors will prefer to get a full set of orchestral sides by Eckstine's pioneering big band, but fans of his warm vocals should pick up this appealing album.
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