Gene Krupa’s flailing arms and floppy hair were undeniable emblems of the Big Band Era. As the first drummer to explore the uses of the full drum kit in jazz (and insist that it be miked at full volume) he helped propel Benny Goodman to stardom-who hasn’t heard the famous opening to “Sing, Sing, Sing”? His success with Goodman (and, as some claim, ego clashes) led to Krupa forming his own big band, which was as successful as any of the units working at the time. The best of Krupa’s work for Columbia is collected here. Spanning the years from 1945 to 1949, the recordings are nestled between the end of the swing era and the beginning of the bop era, and share the punchy arrangements from the former and the daring soloing of the latter. With Krupa at the helm, the faster numbers are taken at a snappy tempo and the ballads at a languid pace, featuring the vocals of Buddy Stewart and Carolyn Grey, primarily. Krupa wisely stacked his band with gifted improvisers, but unfortunately the liner notes give little indication as to who is in the band, except to note that Charlie Ventura, Buddy DeFranco, and Roy Eldridge are definitely on here somewhere. There are a few too many ballads here for a band that excelled at swinging hard, but the fast numbers certainly don’t disappoint; “Disc Jockey Jump”, co-composed with Gerry Mulligan, is a real scorcher, and the ballads are pleasant pop tunes that are nicely presented. Prime big band stuff.
1. Gene's Boogie 2. I Don't Want to Be Loved (By Anyone Else But You) 3. Leave Us Leap 4. Old Devil Moon 5. How High the Moon 6. Aren't You Kind of Glad We Did? 7. Stompin' at the Savoy 8. What's This? 9. I Should Have Kept on Dreaming 10. To Be or No to Be-Bop 11. Are These Really Mine? 12. Lemon Drop 13. There Is No Breeze (To Cool the Flame of Love) 14. Limehouse Blues 15. Harriet (A Western Novelty Song) 16. It's Up to You 17. Along the Navajo Trail 18. Disc Jockey Jump 19. Change Your Mind 20. It's a Good Day 21. Body and Soul 22. Chiquita Banana (The Banana Song) 23. Lover 24. (Did You Ever Get) That Feeling in the Moonlight 25. Calling Dr. Gillespie.
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