Power House, Vol. 2

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With Power House, Vol. 2 Dutton Vocalion has done a splendid job of selecting 26 classic British jazz and hot dance recordings cut by Ambrose and his orchestra between January 1930 and January 1939. Although this chronologically shuffled collection does contain the obligatory assortment of pop vocals (mostly by Sam Browne or Denny Dennis) and a silly shot of English music hall vaudeville (see "Peter's Pop Keeps a Lollipop Shop"), there are numerous exciting tracks (just over half of them, in fact) that place Power House, Vol. 2 well among the best Ambrose compilations available on compact disc. In addition to a surprisingly zippy treatment of "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life," there are rhumbas ("The Lady in Red" and "Ali Baba") as well as big-band swing tunes ("Streamline Strut," "Embassy Stomp," "B'Wanga," "Lament for Congo," "I Got Love," "Toy Trumpet" and Reginald Foresythe's "Dodging a Divorcee"), a beautiful version of "Willow Weep for Me" and, perhaps most surprising of all, two zany Raymond Scott originals: "Twilight in Turkey" and "Powerhouse." If you've ever encountered glowing appraisals of Ambrose's excellent jazz-oriented big band swing and have been waiting to hear what all the crowing was about, this is the disc for you.

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