Ray Perry is heralded as a transitional figure between swing violinist Stuff Smith and the bop innovations of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, although he was only 35 at the time of his death in 1950 and recorded sporadically on electric violin. Perry is heard exclusively in swing settings on this English CD, which compiles two separate sessions transcribed onto lacquer discs. The first is a sextet date led by pianist Sabby Lewis, with two tenor saxophonists (Big Nick Nicholas and Jerry Heffron), bassist Al Morgan, and drummer Joe Booker. Previously issued on a Phoenix LP, this remastered edition adds pitch correction and further noise reduction. Heffron is the main soloist in "Sweet Georgia Brown," though Perry is also featured to good effect. The highlight of the three standards is "I Surrender Dear," featuring Perry's soulful opening and closing solos, though the tempo picks up quite a bit as Heffron makes his presence felt in the heart of the arrangement. Slam Stewart credited Perry as one of the first to sing in unison with a string instrument, though it is unclear if he is doing so in the spirited rendition of "Undecided."
The second session, from 1945, appears commercially for the first time. Perry is the leader, with pianist Argonne Thornton and bassist Ernest Wilson "Serious" Myers. The half dozen standards include inventive renditions of "What is This Thing Called Love," "Just You, Just Me," and "How High the Moon." Since this method of recording didn't restrict the musicians to the three- to four-minute time limit of commercial 78 rpm discs, they take advantage and really stretch out for over ten minutes apiece on the lush ballad "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance," and an easygoing waltz treatment of "Out of Nowhere." Fans of jazz violin will definitely want to seek out this CD full of rare, exciting material.