Red Norvo: Honeysuckle Rose


Honeysuckle Rose


Red Norvo and his Swing Octet


Dance of the Octopus (Hep 1044)

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Red Norvo (xylophone), Bunny Berigan (trumpet), Chu Berry (tenor sax), Teddy Wilson (piano), Artie Bernstein (bass), George Van Eps (guitar), Gene Krupa (drums),

Jack Jenney (trombone), Johnny Mince (clarinet)


Composed by Fats Waller and Andy Razaf


Recorded: New York, January 25, 1935


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

In his day, Red Norvo recorded and gigged with everyone -- Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Charles Mingus, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, and Dizzy Gillespie, among others. Indeed, no other jazz musician of his generation had more diverse credentials. Norvo could flat his fifths with the boppers, or drink his fifths with Eddie Condon and the Chicagoans. But today he is unfairly ignored, dealt with as a modest footnote in the history of the music. What a shame! Few jazz bands in the 1930s were hipper than the Red Norvo Octet. Here in a rare integrated recording session from 1935, the xylophonist leads his band on a hard-swinging journey through "Honeysuckle Rose." What a strange, engaging mixture! The band tackles the song at a fast bop-like tempo, but by the end the horns are tossing out Dixieland counterpoint. A top-tier performance from an underrated ensemble that was always full of surprises.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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