These recordings are taken from the first generation of big band stereo re-creations, a program undertaken by Capitol Records in the late '50s that continued into the early '60s. The purpose was to provide accurate renderings of big band favorites of the 1930s and 1940s in stereo sound. Some original bandleaders, such as Harry James and Artie Shaw, were recruited to re-create their own hits, but most of the work was done by two leaders, Freddy Martin and Glen Gray. Gray provided the hotter swing music for Capitol, whereas Martin recorded the more conservative and nostalgic fare.
This Eric CD combines a generous selection of 21 tracks from Martin's recordings, transferred in excellent sound from the original three-track stereo masters. It includes re-creations of hits ranging from two of Freddy Martin's own ("Bumble Boogie" and "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto") to those of Glenn Miller, Frankie Carle, Tommy Dorsey, and even one by Bert Ambrose. One may wonder why this would even be desirable, as the mono originals of these things are widely available on various packages. Listen and you'll figure it out -- these are just simply outstanding re-creations. They are far from stale imitations of the "real thing," and how much accuracy do you need for pieces like Wayne King's "Josephine" or "My Shawl" by Xavier Cugat? Even potentially difficult re-creations, such as that for Artie Shaw's "Frenesi," are pulled off with an amazing resemblance to the original and a good degree of flair. These recordings were made by top Hollywood studio musicians of the era. In general, Smooth Sounds of the Great Dance Bands is a highly enjoyable collection of pop big band favorites and highly recommended to those who have a taste for dance music on the sweet and gentle side.