Johnny Bothwell was a swing altoist who enjoyed playing ballads in a style that mixed Johnny Hodges and Tab Smith with touches of Willie Smith. A featured soloist with the Boyd Raeburn Orchestra in 1944, Bothwell led his own big bands during 1945-1947, but never really caught on commercially. This 1997 CD has all of Bothwell's studio recordings as a leader (with the exception of two songs cut as a V-Disc), plus a two-selection session from 1949. The emphasis throughout is on ballads, although there are a few midtempo numbers that were performed for variety; subtle hints of the bebop revolution can be felt here and there. Bothwell is the main soloist throughout, although there are some vocals from Claire Hogan (his wife) and Don Darcy, plus occasional contributions from the mostly lesser-known sidemen. Two numbers ("Dear Max" and "Chelsea Bridge") are from an all-star combo that includes cornetist Ray Nance, tenor saxophonist Allen Eager, and baritonist Harry Carney. The high points of this definitive Johnny Bothwell set include "I'll Remember April," "Dear Max," Billy Strayhorn's "Strange Feeling," George Handy's "The Trouble with Me Is You," "From the Land of the Sky Blue Water," and, surprisingly, "Chiquita Banana."
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow