The Four Freshmen

More 4 Freshmen and 5 Trombones

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In 1956, when 4 Freshmen and 5 Trombones reached the Top Ten, the Four Freshmen were at the height of their popularity. By 1964, when they reprised the musical concept, again employing Pete Rugolo to score arrangements prominently featuring a quintet of trombones, they were near the end of their long contract with Capitol Records and hadn't placed an album in the charts in more than four years. Nevertheless, they made the best of what had always been a very good concept, singing a collection of early-'60s standards. "Hello, Dolly!" led things off in an arrangement that almost convinced you they were going to break into "Begin the Beguine" instead of the recent Broadway showstopper. And just so you didn't forget the Freshmen's sense of humor, the performance ended with Ross Barbour going into his duck voice. From there on, they simply applied their patented vocal style to some of the most popular middle-of-the-road ballads of the day, jousting with Rugolo's horns. The most exciting skirmish came in "A Taste of Honey," on which the horns sometimes got the better of it. But the combination remained a winning one. More 4 Freshmen and 5 Trombones was another excellent album from the group and, in one sense, very much an album of its time. But in another sense, it had no place on a major label in the age of the Beatles (who, of course, were also on Capitol), and, after one more single, the Four Freshmen left the company for which they had recorded since 1950.