Billy May

Sorta-May/Jimmie Lunceford in Hi Fi

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Best remembered as the man who crafted spunky arrangements for Frank Sinatra, Billy May (1916-2004) developed his skills during the late 1930s and early '40s as trumpeter and arranger with the Charlie Barnet, Glenn Miller and Les Brown orchestras. During the 1950s, May churned out a series of spiffy big band records for Capitol where he served as staff arranger. Sorta-May, a very popular album from 1954, features one dozen well-loved melodies by great Tin Pan Alley composers including Jerome Kern, Rodgers & Hart, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Rudolf Friml. Note that Sorta-May was reissued on GNP Crescendo in 1996, coupled with May's 1955 Sorta Dixie album. May's Jimmie Lunceford tribute, first issued in 1957 as Great Jimmie Lunceford, is a hi-fidelity salute to the Mississippi-born and Memphis-raised African-American bandleader. May lent authenticity to the project by having ex-Lunceford bandmembers Dan Grissom, Willie Smith, Joe Thomas and Trummy Young stand in as vocalists.

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