Various Artists

Swingin' Uptown: Big Band 1923-1952

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

In contrast to BMG's mid-priced single disc swing compilations, which are centered on the biggest hits, this mid-priced, 44 track (134 minute), double-disc set is pitched toward the more serious fan. That doesn't mean that it isn't also great fun -- just that there's a lot more to learn here. Alongside the early cuts here by Ellington, Armstrong, Goodman, Basie, Cab Calloway, Artie Shaw and other luminaries, listeners will find an array of musicians that haven't been popular in half a century or more, including Benson's Orchestra of Chicago ("I Never Miss The Sunshine"), Carlton Coon & Joe Sanders ("High Fever"), Jean Goldkette ("I'm Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now"), Charlie Johnson ("The Charlston Is the Best Dance of All"), Harlan Leonard ("A-La-Bridges") and Willie Bryant ("The Sheik of Araby"), not to mention curiosities such as "Strange Enchantment," the earliest known Gil Evans arrangement on record, as cut by Skinnay Ennis leading what had been the Evans Orchestra. Bob Crosby alumnus, Bob Zurke, a boogie-woogie influenced pianist whose short-lived career yielded a furiously rambunctious "Tea for Two" is also featured here. Producer Orrin Keepnews has stretched the envelope a bit here to include dance bands and orchestras that delved effectively into swing only occasionally, as well as true iconoclasts like Zurke -- in tandem with annotator Loren Schoenberg, he spotlights undeservedly forgotten figures such as tenorman Henry Bridges and trombonist Fred Beckett ("A-La-Bridges"), and also makes a fresh plea for respect on behalf of such once-famous and now derided figures such as Paul Whiteman. The sound has been discreetly and elegantly CEDAR-processed for clarity and no loss of impact.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:03
2
3:30
3 3:00
4 2:46
5 2:46
6 2:46
7 2:43
8 3:07
9 2:39
10 3:03
11 2:57
12 3:19
13 3:28
14 3:09
15 3:14
16 3:10
17 2:37
18 3:16
19 3:06
20 2:55
21 2:46
22 2:42

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:49
2 3:18
3
3:25
4 3:25
5 2:44
6 3:09
7 3:01
8 2:43
9 3:18
10 2:32
11 3:22
12 3:03
13 3:14
14 3:03
15 2:59
16 3:00
17 2:34
18 3:00
19 3:02
20 3:05
21 3:14
22 2:57
blue highlight denotes track pick