Erwin Lehn Orchestra: Let 'Em Swing!

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Erwin Lehn Orchestra: Let 'Em Swing! Let 'Em Swing! surveys the early years (1951-65) of bandleader/vibraphonist Erwin Lehn's groundbreaking Südfunk-Tanzorchester, which continues today as the world-class SWR Big Band. Lehn led the band for forty years until his retirement at the end of 1991. The orchestra then became known as the SDR Big Band, and later the SWR.

Lehn's entire career as leader of the orchestra is documented in a superb two-disc set, 40 Jahre Jazz, on the IRS label, and in another two-disc set, 50 Jahre, on CK Records. The first covers the years 1951-91, the second 1959-2000. Even though Lehn's orchestra was mostly German, a few American expats found their way there, including trumpeters Don Rader and Lee Katzman and trombonists Bobby Burgess and Joe Gallardo.

The band also welcomed a number of eminent guest artists over the years. Those appearing on 50 Jahre include trumpeters Maynard Ferguson, Ack van Rooyen, Chet Baker, Don Ellis, Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry and Bobby Shew; trombonists Rob McConnell, Frank Rosolino and Kai Winding; saxophonists Phil Woods, Sal Nistico, Frank Foster, Buddy Tate, Tony Scott and Bob Mintzer; clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, guitarist Barney Kessel and harmonica star Toots Thielemans.

Returning to the album at hand, it shows that Lehn's Tanzorchester began as a quasi-dance band with jazz overtones, performing mostly its own arrangements of American favorites. The exceptions are Walter Dobschinski's "Dob's Boogie, Josef Huber's "I Like Basie, Horst Jankowski/Bernd Rabe's "Basically Cute (loosely based on the Neal Hefti composition) and Ernst Simon's "Let 'Em Swing. There are features along the way for Jankowski, trumpeters Horst Fischer and Georg Ernszt, trombonist Ernst Mosch and drummer Hermann Mutschler, and spirited duels for trumpet and tenor sax on "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid. Fischer does his best Harry James impression on "Ciribiribin, "Stormy Weather and "Carnival, and even channels Maynard Ferguson on Fred Poliakin's "Hot Canary.

While the orchestra is quite good, the sound is variable, and no better than adequate on the earlier pre-'60s monaural tracks, while the album focuses (with a few departures) on the band's commercial side. For a more well-rounded (and better recorded) likeness of Lehn's Südfunk-Tanzorchester, try 40 Jahre Jazz. This one's mainly for the historians and completists.

Track Listing: Opus One; Lester Leaps In; Ciribiribin; Drum Boogie; You Are Too Beautiful; Jumpin with Symphony Sid; Stormy Weather; Dobs Boogie; Serenade in Blue; Ive Got My Love to Keep Me Warm; I Know Why; Basically Cute; Flyin Home; Mr. Anthonys Boogie; I Cover the Waterfront; Carnival; I Cant Give You Anything But Love; I Like Basie; With a Song in My Heart; The Kid from Red Bank; Hot Canary; Laura; Fishmarket; Let Em Swing (77:41).

Personnel: Erwin Lehn: leader, vibraphone; Heinz Abendschon, Franz Bummerl, Georg Ernszt, Horst Fischer, Konrad Jackel, Georg Kraft, Eberhard Schmidt-Schulz: trumpet; Werner Baumgart, Fritz Dautel, Joki Freund, Manfred Hoffbauer, Ernst Machwitz, Bernd Rabe, Berthold Schramme, Karl-Heinz Tischendorf, Walter Vogel, Gerald Weinskopf: reeds; Rudi Becher, Juraj Cukac, Joseph Gppel, Ferry Juza, Kurt Krause, Ferencz Lakatos, Ernst Mosch, Alfred Pendzialek: trombone; Horst Jankowski, Gerhard Wehner: piano; Gnther Leimstoll: guitar; Walter Rehfeld, Peter Witte: bass; Charly Antolini, Hermann Mutschler, Ferry Tagscherer: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: CK Records | Style: Big Band


More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Parallax" CD/LP/Track Review Parallax
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 21, 2016
Read "Back Where I Belong" CD/LP/Track Review Back Where I Belong
by James Nadal
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp" CD/LP/Track Review The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "New Focus On Song" CD/LP/Track Review New Focus On Song
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Free for One" CD/LP/Track Review Free for One
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 31, 2016
Read "Kjølvatn" CD/LP/Track Review Kjølvatn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!