Jimmie Lunceford: Harlem Shout
Jimmie Lunceford & His Orchestra
The Original Decca Recordings: For Dancers Only (GRP)
Eddie Tompkins (trumpet), Paul Webster (trumpet), Sy Oliver (trumpet), Elmer Crumbley (trombone), Russell Bowles (trombone), Eddie Durham (trombone), Willie Smith (reeds), Dan Grissom (reeds), Laforet Dent (reeds), Earl Carruthers (reeds),
Joe Thomas (reeds), Edwin Wilcox (piano), Al Norris (guitar), Moses Allen (bass), Jimmy Crawford (drums).
Conducted by Jimmie Lunceford. Composed by Eddie Durham and Jimmie Lunceford.
Recorded: New York, October 14, 1936
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Jimmie Lunceford is the odd man out in jazz history. This bandleader made no waves with his musicianship—his preferred instrument was the conductor's baton—and he possessed neither the elegance of Ellington nor the hipster hauteur of Calloway. But Lunceford knew how to entertain an audience, and he led one of the finest jazz bands of the 1930s. When Lunceford's ensemble took a booking at the Cotton Club, following in the footsteps of Cab and the Duke, dancers would hardly have missed a beat. "Harlem Shout" demonstrates the core virtues of this orchestra: its swinging riff-based charts, its hot and polished section work, and (another calling card of Lunceford's bands) high-note trumpet theatrics, provided here by Paul Webster. Like a hearty band of soldiers, this ensemble always maintained discipline under fire, and there was inevitably plenty of hot stuff around when folks like Sy Oliver and Eddie Durham were handing out the parts. Perhaps if Lunceford had lived longer—he died, reportedly of a heart attack (although under suspicious circumstances), at age 45—he might have been fêted as elder statesman of jazz. But, as it stands, he is little more than a half-remembered name for most younger jazz fans. Tis pity, 'cause this band was sublime.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia