Jimmie Lunceford's orchestra was one of the smoothest and most sophisticated big bands of the '30s. While not as original as Ellington's contemporary outfits or as fierce as Basie's group, Lunceford's band certainly deserves to be remembered as one of the top swing groups from the prewar years. Beyond his impeccable taste and high standards, Lunceford furthered his musical stock by enlisting some of the best arrangers of the day. Part of a core that also included alto saxophonist Willie Smith, trombonist Eddie Durham, and pianist Edwin Wilcox, Sy Oliver was the standout charts man during Lunceford's prime years of 1934-1937. Many of his arrangements are included here on this Jazz Heritage roundup of cuts from 1936-1937. Among the highlights are such classy sides as "For Dancers Only," "Posin'," and "Annie Laurie." These are topped off with a few fetching vocal sides and plenty of solo treats from the likes of Smith, trombonist "Trummy" Young, and tenor saxophonist Joe Thomas. This collection might not be the best available (check out the releases on the Classics label, which cover most of the bandleader's work), but it will certainly be welcomed by those looking for a relatively cheap introduction to the Lunceford catalog.
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