Al Jolson

The Man and the Legend, Vol. 1

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In addition to his work on-stage, in films, and on records, Al Jolson made frequent appearances on the dominant medium of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s -- radio -- performing as a guest star on many shows and even hosting his own programs over a period of nearly 30 years. The Man and the Legend, Vol. 1 is a compilation album which assembles 20 airchecks from those appearances, and it includes many songs that Jolson never sang in a recording studio. The scholarship on the package is incomplete, with notes on only a few tracks "of special interest," including the information that the take of "Swanee" comes from the George Gershwin memorial concert held at the Hollywood Bowl shortly after the composer's death, and that the closing performance of "My Mammy" marked Jolson's return to performing on the Let Yourself Go show of June 6, 1945: five months after an operation to remove part of his lung had lowered his voice considerably. Sound quality varies dramatically from one track to another, and in some cases the tracks are brief, fading out before finishing. So this is not an ideal collection. But the rarity of the material makes it valuable for fans.

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