Various Artists

Swing for a Crime

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Similar to sprawling, bootlegged collections in the Stompin', Las Vegas Grind, and Desperate Rock 'n' Roll series, this French compilation, Swing for a Crime, revels in the fringes of lounge and roots music. The producers focus on jazz and R&B wrapped in a beatnik a go-go sheen and splice in appropriate dialogue and music from various crime films to add to the set's programmatic feel. Along with jazz guitarist Barney Kessel's novel bit of rockin' blues on "Honey Rock," other high-profile moments come by way of arranger Sy Oliver's (Jimmie Lunceford, Tommy Dorsey) exotic noir theme with "Stu's Blues" and Les Baxter's "Peter Gunn"-like "Boomada." Even more intriguing, though, are obscure tracks like the Hollywood Persuaders' surf-beat number "Drums A-Go-Go," Patsy Raye & the Beatnicks' goatee monologue "Beatnick's Wish," and Ric Gray's "Tequila"-esque teenage montage "Pimples and Braces" ("tacos and t-shirts/bongos and burgers"). Plenty of Latin percussion, rock & roll swagger, Farfisa Organ, and dark-alley ambience add to the kaleidoscopic mix. And for all the flippancy, there are still enough incredibly arranged pieces -- like Art Van Damme's big band stunner "Voodoo Doll" -- to satisfy to the more studious record hounds. While certainly not for jazz purists, the Swing for a Crime collection will no doubt please fans broadminded enough not take the kitsch manifestations of R&B, rock & roll, Latin music, and jazz too seriously.

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