They were easily the top all-female jazz group before the 1980s, yet the International Sweethearts of Rhythm were barely documented. In the 1940s, they cut a few very obscure 78s that have rarely been reissued. Fortunately, this 1984 LP has 16 selections by the big band taken from a couple of Jubilee radio programs. Although one has to sit through some dated jive chatter from MC Ernie "Bubbles" Whitman, it is worth it to hear the Sweethearts stretching out. Among the key players in this excellent band are leader/vocalist/saxophonist Anna Mae Winburn, trumpeters Tiny Davis (who also sings) and Jean Starr, and the great tenor Vi Burnside. Despite the time period, the orchestra does not show the influence of bop at all and is very solidly in the swing camp. Given extensive liner notes by producer Rosetta Reitz, this album (which will hopefully reappear on CD someday) is well worth searching for and casts light on an important, if often overlooked, big band.
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