Jump Town Orchestra

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The Jump Town Orchestra was a retro swing outfit decades before the latter term was coined and years before most of its practitioners were born. The group established a great value in terms of its featured…
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The Jump Town Orchestra was a retro swing outfit decades before the latter term was coined and years before most of its practitioners were born. The group established a great value in terms of its featured soloists, including the magnificent Buddy Tate on tenor saxophone, the melodic Benny Morton on trombone, the misty Taft Jordan on trumpet, and the mangy Dave McRae on baritone saxophone. The group was also an experiment with the shortest possible shelf life, as in a single recording session, an attempt to sell the sound of '30s swing when the birth of rock & roll was still a few calendars short of happening.

A fall taping in New York City may have been the only real meeting of this aggregation as the Jump Town Orchestra, but the session was also marketed under an additional name, Fred Norman & His Orchestra. Referenced thusly it is considered a sequence in the career and discography of Norman and his groups. Norman, kind of a Glenn Miller type but swinging somewhat harder, played trombone and had worked as an arranger for Claude Hopkins back in the swing and Kansas City jazz glory days. Pretty much everything that happened with the Jump Town Orchestra, from the picking of musicians to decisions about repertoire, was up to Norman once he had gotten the initial go-ahead from the producer. Critical bigwig Leonard Feather was drafted to write liner notes for the original release and had no problem relating to the authenticity of a project in which performers such as Norman and Tate were involved.

The most devout fans of this excellent project have sought out a missing raft of tracks thought to be equal in number to what has been actually released under either band name, the quest primarily launched by the presence of titles on studio logs that do not match the original release as well as subsequent reissues including alternate takes. There does not seem to be additional lost music by this group, however, only a plethora of titles for the same pieces of music. Basically, whatever title was used for a piece at the original session was discarded in favor of something more clever. "Jump Town," presumably the combo's theme, was originally just the boring prospect of "Walking Down Main Street," for example.