Benny Goodman added some fire to his rhythm section with the arrival of the powerful drummer Sid Catlett, though pianist Mel Powell and trumpeter Cootie Williams (the latter lured from Duke Ellington's band a few months earlier) also made a difference. These 1941 airchecks, made over a four-month stretch, include a number of favorites from the clarinetist's repertoire, among them two versions of Mary Lou Williams' jumping "Roll 'Em" (though one is a composite of performances), "Don't Be That Way," "A Smo-o-o-oth One," and a nearly complete "'Sing, Sing, Sing!" Williams is showcased on muted horn in the Ellington piece written for him, "Concerto for Cootie" (inexplicably announced as "Concerto for Tootie"), growling as no one else in jazz could. The two vocal features include Peggy Lee in an acceptable treatment of "When the Sun Comes Out," while Tommy Taylor's rendition of "If It's True" was the only occasion that Goodman recorded this Don Redman work. Williams adds a campy vocal in "Don't Let the Doorknob Hitcha." This collectable disc (due to the demise of Vintage Jazz Classics) ranges from good to average audio quality, as some of the source transcription discs are a little noisy, and several are incomplete.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden