Les Brown: April Showers


April Showers


Les Brown and his Orchestra


Les Brown and his Orchestra 1949, Vol. 2 (Hindsight HCD 131)

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Les Brown (leader), Ray Sims (trombone), Dave Pell (tenor sax), Abe Most (alto sax, clarinet), Geoff Clarkson (piano),

Wes Hensel, Frank Beach, Bob Fowler, Bob Higgins (trumpets), Ralph Pfeffner, Stumpy Brown, Ray Klein (trombones), Ronnie Lang (alto sax), Eddie Scherr (tenor sax), Butch Stone (baritone sax), Tony Rizzi or Bobby Gibbons (guitar), Ray Leatherwood (bass), Jack Sperling or Dick Shanahan (drums), Jimmy Wallington (announcer)


Composed by Buddy De Sylva & Louis Silvers; arranged by Skip Martin


Recorded: Los Angeles, 1949


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

After establishing himself as a freelance arranger in New York, Les Brown led a pretty good orchestra. Having Doris Day as a vocalist for two periods during the '40s further enhanced his reputation, and her vocal on "Sentimental Journey" helped turn that recording into one of the biggest hits of the big band era. Brown disbanded in 1946 but reformed because he couldn't get out of a major engagement. When selected to be the house band for the Bob Hope radio show, Brown was able to keep his orchestra together for many years with minimal touring. He later said that the unit he led in the '50s was the best he ever had, but his group during the late '40s was a strong one that made excellent recordings and left many air checks.

Brown also made many transcriptions for radio play only, which allowed him to record arrangements that he normally played on dance jobs. Skip Martin had written for Count Basie, Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman, and the Pied Pipers. He would continue to write for Brown during the '50s and was the resident jazz arranger for MGM studios at the same time. Martin always turned in beautiful, exciting arrangements for any ensemble, and his arrangements for Brown are uniformly excellent.

After a short intro, the band plays the melody of this standard in 2-beat style, eventually leading to four by the second chorus. Solos are by trombonist Ray Sims, tenorman Dave Pell, and the gorgeous clarinet of Abe Most. Also outstanding are Geoff Clarkson's piano punctuations. The out chorus is powerful and jumps like crazy. It is no wonder that Les Brown's ensemble is now considered one of the top big bands of all time.

Reviewer: Jeff Sultanof

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