December 04, 2002
Past Perfect
Jazz, Big Band, Swing, Dixieland, New Orleans Jazz, Tin Pan Alley Pop, Mainstream Jazz, Vocal Jazz

Album Review

The one serious problem with this album is its title track. The discography on the inside of the packaging says that "Bugle Call Rag" was recorded in 1922 by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. This is absolutely true. The recording of "Bugle Call Rag" heard as track one of this CD, however, is not the 1922 NORK version. The rendition of "Bugle Call Rag" heard here was recorded by Allen with Billy Banks and His Orchestra (minus Banks who was late getting to the recording studio) on April 18 1932, and serves as a wonderful if improperly identified opener. It is followed by eight romantic pop-jazz sides from 1937 featuring Red's gentle singing voice. These are delightful for those who know Red and want to hear some rarities, yet eight in a row would not serve as a good first taste for the uninitiated. The second half of the disc, on the other hand, displays Red Allen in full bloom, for all the world to hear. One very satisfying take on "Canal Street Blues" from May of 1940 has Benny Morton and Edmond Hall in the front line along with Lil Armstrong, Bernard Addison, Pops Foster, and Zutty Singleton. Two sessions from 1941 are thoroughly hot and solid, with trombonist J.C. Higginbotham replacing Morton in front of pianist Kenny Kersey, bassist Billy Taylor, and drummer Jimmie Hoskins, who manages to generate extraordinary quantities of steam during Lionel Hampton's "Jack the Bellboy." The numerology ends up looking like this: one mislabeled opener, eight soft-serve pop songs, and ten outstanding examples of Henry "Red" Allen steering a couple of small groups through seven established jazz standards and three originals. For a budget-priced package with only one glaring discographical mistake, it's not bad at all. That version of "Bellboy" alone is worth the price of admission.
arwulf arwulf, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Bugle Call Rag
  2. Till the Clock Strikes Three
  3. You'll Never Go to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)
  4. The Miller's Daughter, Marianne
  5. The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down
  6. Have You Ever Been in Heaven?
  7. (Is It) Love or Infatuation?
  8. I Owe You
  9. Can I Forget You?
  10. Canal Street Blues
  11. Shim Me Sha Wabble
  12. King Porter Stomp
  13. K.K. Boogie
  14. Sometimes I'm Happy
  15. Ol' Man River
  16. A Sheridan "Square"
  17. Siesta at the Fiesta
  18. Jack the Bellboy
  19. Indiana