Les Brown: Leap Frog


Leap Frog


Les Brown (leader)


The Les Brown Songbook (Varese Vintage VSD-5931)

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Les Brown (leader),

Wes Hensel, Don Palladino, Bob Higgins, Bob Fowler, Frank Beach (trumpets), Ray Sims, Dick Noel, Bob Pring, Clyde ‘Stumpy’ Brown (trombones), Jack Tucker, Abe Aaron (alto saxes), Dave Pell, Eddie Scherr (tenor saxes), Butch Stone (baritone sax), Tony Rizzi (guitar), Geoff Clarkson (piano), Ray Leatherwood (bass), Jack Sperling (drums)


Composed by Joe Garland


Recorded: Los Angeles, February 19, 1951


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Tenor saxophonist/arranger Joe Garland is best known for "In the Mood," which of course became the anthem of the swing era for better or worse. What many people do not know is that he submitted another one of his catchy riff-based pieces to Les Brown sometime in the mid-1940s. Les once said that it took about a year to get around to finally playing it, but once the band did, it was never out of the book. He recorded it for Columbia Records in 1945 and it was an immediate hit, so much so that Les made it his new theme.

Fast forward to 1951; Les leaves Columbia and signs with the new Decca Records subsidiary, Coral Records. His producer is Sonny Burke, one of his classmates at Duke University back in the '30s, and a fine arranger in his own right. Les re-records his theme with the band he later called his finest, and the performance is nothing short of fantastic. Even though the band had played the piece thousands of times, they still make it sound fresh, and as good as the Columbia studio sound is, the Coral is even better. Dave Pell's has a brief solo, but the band is clearly the star. Who wouldn't want to spend an evening listening and dancing to this powerhouse ensemble?

Reviewer: Jeff Sultanof

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