Ray McKinley Orchestra

The Most Versatile Band in the Land

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Ray McKinley was originally best known as the unofficial co-leader of the Will Bradley Orchestra and as the drummer with Glenn Miller & the Army Air Force Band. The big band he led from 1946-1949 was therefore quite surprising in how modern the arrangements were. McKinley was a great admirer of Eddie Sauter, and he let the arranger write whatever he wanted for the band. With pianist Lou Stein, clarinetist Peanuts Hucko, and guitarist Mundell Lowe among the key soloists, the orchestra played very advanced swing with touches of bop, along with more conventional vocal features for McKinley (who always sang good-humored lyrics), Ann Hathaway, Teddy Norman, and Chris Adams. This double LP (which has unfortunately not yet been reissued in full on CD) contains all 28 recordings made by the 1946-1947 edition of Ray McKinley's big band, and there are many unknown classics to be heard. McKinley seems to have had one of the finest jazz orchestras that no one has ever heard of.