Red Norvo

Improvisations on Keynote

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Volume Eight of Mercury's partial transfer onto CDs of its mighty Complete Keynote Collection LP set contains some wonderful Red Norvo small combo swing sessions. "Subtle Sextology," "Blues a la Red," "The Man I Love," and "Seven Come Eleven" come from some sextet sessions that sound very much like the sextet 78s that Benny Goodman was putting out around then. That figures, because Norvo participated on many of the BG sides -- and so did pianist Teddy Wilson and bassist Slam Stewart; the latter gets plenty of humorous hum-scat time on these sides, too. For "Russian Lullaby," "I Got Rhythm," and "Sing Something Simple," the personnel shuffles (Wilson and Stewart remain) and expands to a septet for which Johnny Thompson writes some creative charts. Norvo plays xylophone on "Lullaby" and delivers unquenchably swinging vibraphone solos at all times. All but "Subtle Sextology" and "The Man I Love" are appended with outtakes -- indeed, eight of the 14 tracks here were previously unissued -- and "Sing Something Simple" never appeared on 78s at all. The remastered sound is all right, with a touch of distortion on occasional peaks.

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