The fourth volume in Jazz Oracle's Ben Pollack reissue program covers the period right after Benny Goodman and cornetist Jimmy McPartland had departed. They were soon replaced by clarinetist Matty Matlock and trumpeter Charlie Teagarden, but the main star throughout is trombonist/singer Jack Teagarden. This CD has 13 selections recorded by Pollack's Park Central Orchestra and by the same basic group under the names of Gil Rodin and Jack Teagarden, plus ten alternate takes. Because Pollack sought to balance the commercial with the artistic, there are vocalists on every song, including Smith Ballew, Scrappy Lambert, Eddie Gale, and (on three unfortunate examples) Pollack himself. Fortunately, Jack Teagarden gets to sing on five of the numbers, including (under Rodin's name) "Beale Street Blues" and two versions of "If I Could Be With You." (plus three alternate takes). There are enough worthwhile moments (particularly from Teagarden) to make this a worthwhile acquisition for fans of classic jazz, but the Ben Pollack Orchestra rarely lived up to its great potential.
Vol. 4, 1929-1930 Review
by Scott Yanow