C-melody saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer is best remembered for the recordings he made in the late '20s with cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Trumbauer's other lasting accomplishment was to inadvertently inspire Lester Young to develop an unusually subtle manner of handling the tenor saxophone. While most of this material may be found on various Beiderbecke-oriented compilations (the JSP box Bix & Tram is thriftily priced), there's nothing quite like having a Classics discography to organize one's cognition while following the trail of old records in precise chronological sequence. Informational details such as record labels, arranger credits, and recording dates are neatly presented for maximum clarity and comprehension. This first volume in the complete works of Frankie Trumbauer consists entirely of recordings made for the Okeh label between February 4, 1927, and January 20, 1928. The material ranges from archetypal masterpieces ("Singin' the Blues," "Ostrich Walk," "I'm Coming, Virginia," and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find") to marvelously stodgy milestones of timeworn pop music. "Sugar" -- not Maceo Pinkard's tune but a long-gone opus credited to Yellen & Ager -- is sung by a positively silly trio of comedians whereas "Just an Hour of Love" and "I'm Wonderin' Who" feature vaudeville-trained vocalist Irving Kaufman. Instrumentally speaking, there's never a dull moment. Adrian Rollini appears and disappears like a bass sax-toting will o' the wisp; Joe Venuti brandishes a fiddle and Eddie Lang plays both banjo and guitar, even appearing in a trio with Bix and Tram on "For No Reason at All in C" and Fats Waller's "Wringin' and Twistin'." Pee Wee Russell and Jimmy Dorsey each show up long enough to contribute their two bits, someone's sax whinnies like a horse at the end of "There'll Come a Time," and Bing Crosby merrily mouths the racist lyrics to "Mississippi Mud." Throughout all of this, Beiderbecke sounds like an angel playing hooky from heaven.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf