THE FIRST OF THE SINGER SONGWRITERS - KEY CUTS 1924-1946 (4CD)
Wolverine Orchestra, Chocolate Dandies, Ed Lang & His Orchestra, Frankie Trumbauer, Louis Armstrong, Bennie Moten, Mildred Bailey, Eddie South, Duke Ellington, Paul Whiteman, Fletcher Henderson, Boswell Sisters, Casa Loma Orchestra, Isham Jones, Red Nichols & His Five Pennies and many more!
They don't come much better than this! Compiled by Richard Sudhalter who wrote the only official biography on Hoagy "Stardust Melody" (Oxford University Press) and transferred and restored by John RT Davies with Doug Pomeroy - this is a huge box of delights.
The material here is staggering. It's hard to believe one man is responsible for such classics as Rockin' Chair, Stardust, Lazy River, Georgia On My Mind, In The Still of The Night, Moon Country, Hong Kong Blues, Baltimore Oriole, Memphis In June, Ole Buttermilk Sky, Sweet Lorraine, Two Sleepy People and Lazy Bones.
Starting with his very first composition ‘Riverboat Shuffle' recorded by Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverine Orchestra, we follow Hoagy's sensational rise as a songwriter when artists such as Red Nichols, Tommy Dorsey, Miff Mole, Eddie Lang, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington took an interest in him.
The majority of the 101 tracks presented here feature Carmichael as sideman pianist, vocalist, or in duos with artists such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Logan but we also get to understand how others interpreted his music. For instance, despite featuring Hoagy on piano, Hitch's Happy Harmonists failed to hit the mark on their first recording of ‘Washboard Blues' but it's full potential was realised one year later with Red Nichol's Five Pennies version. Ethel Waters and Maxine Sullivan were quick to have hits with his songs but the jazz diva Mildred Bailey seemed to deliver the most thoughtful interpretations - check out her 1931 recording of ‘Georgia On My Mind' for full fat proof.
For me though, it's Hoagy's own versions that hit the spot most. His voice epitomises heartfelt, casual wistfulness and his lazy drawl evokes a nostalgic, languid feel of sleepy Southern summers that has been touching the hearts and souls of fans world-wide for the most part of a century. Nobody could do it like Hoagy. This music is simply gorgeous!
Ask for JSP959 - Only £14.50 plus p&p for this 4CD set here at Red Lick
Review Date: July 2009