Claude Thornhill's orchestra existed at the intersection of sweet and cool, and his discography is peppered with pop vocals and bop arrangements that typify the stylistic developments of post-WWII jazz and pop. While the Hep label has managed to unearth and reissue more vintage Thornhill than anyone else, Swing Factory's 23-track sampler of his 1946-1947 Original Studio Radio Transcriptions will work well as a representative stash of this band's best works from the period in question. The phrase "radio transcriptions" is used to describe studio recordings which were sold to broadcasting companies rather than the record-buying public. The removal of the expectation that each song necessarily represented a saleable commodity sometimes resulted in music of great artistic merit, and broadcast acetates allowed for performances to exceed the standard 3.5 minute duration of the 10" 78 rpm phonograph record. Swing Factory's assortment of Thornhill transcriptions includes examples of everything the band offered, including sweet vocals and dance favorites punctuated with conspicuously boppish bursts of brass; European classical adaptations (here based upon melodies by Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky); Latin American numbers like "Adios" and "La Paloma," and progressive jazz compositions by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie ("Donna Lee" and "Anthropology"); Trummy Young ("Sorta Kinda") as well as Illinois Jacquet and Sir Charles Thompson ("Robbins Nest"), with modernistic arrangements by Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans. The alto saxophonist who expressed himself creatively on "Puttin' and Takin'" was a young Lee Konitz. This is an exceptionally rewarding collection. Anyone who wants to delve deeper should head straight for the Hep catalog.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf