Harry James

Ultimate Big Band Collection: Harry James

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One of the things that set Harry James and his band apart during the swing era were the arrangements. They were extremely formal and, because he was a trumpeter, brassy more often than not. That said, his music was not only for dancing, but provided an often exotic listening experience as well. The James volume in Sony's Masterworks Jazz series is a solid, decent-sounding, budget-priced introduction to some of the most ambitious and moody music to come from this group. While tracks like "Sleepy Lagoon" and "I Don't Want to Walk Without You" provide the more romantic side of the James' sound (complete with strings), other numbers, such as the Cuban-flavored "Ciribiribin," and the brief but dramatic reading of "Flight of the Bumblebee," offer an aural view of the band's fascination with color, texture, dynamic, and nuance.

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