RELEASE
1993
LABEL
Classic Records
GENRES
Jazz, Big Band, Swing

Album Review

Whatever happened to Orlando Roberson? He recorded with Fats Waller & His Buddies in December of 1929 and with Claude Hopkins in 1933 and 1934, then resurfaced in March 1937 crooning away in practically the same voice in front of a band led by Edgar Hayes -- but billed this one time as Orlando Roberson & His Orchestra. Many jazz fans would cringe at these two sentimental pop songs, but aside from serving as a fascinating circumstantial footnote to the Fats Waller story they form the first steps in the chronological recordings of Waller's exact contemporary, Edgar Hayes (1904-1979). The real springboard for this story is "Manhattan Jam," recorded at the same session as Roberson's sleepy confections. This lively stomp has a melody similar to Cab Calloway's notorious 1932 hit, "Reefer Man." Trombonist Robert Horton sounds a bit like Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton -- next to him stands the great Clyde Bernhardt -- and that's young Kenny "Klook" Clarke knocking the stuffing out of his drums. This in fact was where Clarke's recording career began. The arrangements are wonderful, particularly Hayes' version of Ellington and Tizol's "Caravan." Each instrumental is a delight to behold. "Edgar Steps Out" has an irresistible rhythm that may very well result in toe-tapping or improvised dancing. During "Laughing at Life," the band sings back at Ralph Sawyer in a stylized routine known to have been developed by Steve Washington and stolen by Tommy Dorsey. "Stompin' at the Renny" was composed by tenor saxophonist Joe Garland, who during his solo uses a riff that would later surface as the theme of Lionel Hampton's smash hit "Flyin' Home." A second version of "Laughing at Life" has a considerably cooler vocal by trumpeter Bernie Flood. "Satan Takes a Holiday" contains a couple of lively vibraphone solos by Kenny Clarke. He sticks with the vibes on the following session, a quintet date with vocals by Bill Darnell. Present in this little band was clarinetist Rudy Powell, famous for his earlier recordings with Thomas "Fats" Waller. Fortunately, Darnell sings tolerably well, allowing the listener to stick with this band long enough to marvel at Clarke's vibraphone work and the sympathetic intonations of Powell's clarinet. Hayes himself was a capable pianist, with a surefooted swing style comparable to that of Count Basie. "Queen Isabella" is a solid instrumental, a valuable commodity nestled among no less than nine vocals by the ubiquitous Darnell. Somebody, presumably the dexterous Robert Horton, manages to emit "ya-ya" syllables from his trombone during "Old King Cole," making the Joe Nanton comparison even more accurate. Clarke trundles out the vibraphone from time to time, and Darnell won't stop singing. On January 14, 1938, the Edgar Hayes band made history by recording without any vocals by Bill Darnell. The band swings marvelously on the instrumental Joe Garland composition appropriately entitled "Meet the Band." What makes these 1938 sides work so well is the arranging -- and baritone sax work -- of Garland. "Fugitive from a Harem" and "Swingin' in the Promised Land" are big-band swing records suitable for jitterbugging and cutting the rug.
arwulf arwulf, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Sweet Is the Word for You
  2. Just a Quiet Evening
  3. Manhattan Jam
  4. Caravan
  5. Edgar Steps Out
  6. Laughing at Life
  7. Stomping at the Renny
  8. Laughing at Life
  9. High, Wide and Handsome
  10. Satan Takes a Holiday
  11. Love Me or Leave Me
  12. Blue Skies
  13. So Rare
  14. Queen Isabella
  15. Old King Cole
  16. Shindig
  17. Let's Love
  18. I Know Now
  19. Sweetheart
  20. When You and I Were Young, Maggie
  21. Meet the Band
  22. Fugitive from a Harem
  23. Swingin' in the Promised Land
  24. Barbary Coast Blues