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Orchester Kurt Edelhagen: Orchester Kurt Edelhagen: Big Bands Live

Jack Bowers By

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Maestro Kurt Edelhagen's Orchestra was a band for its time, deftly blending elements of swing, pop and jazz to help move Germany—at least the Western part of it—away from Nazi strictures and toward a more open-handed environment that not only tolerated but nourished the country's alliance to big-band music that spawned a wide array of world-class contemporary ensembles.

As was true of many bands from overseas back in the day, not many of the Edelhagen Orchestra's recordings were readily available in the States, which makes this "new" anthology from 1954 that much more notable. The album's eighteen tracks, three of which are repeated, were recorded during two concerts and three studio dates in July-December '54. Edelhagen's rising young vocal star, Caterina Valente, is heard on two numbers, and as a bonus, the band is joined by the acclaimed pianist Mary Lou Williams for "Blues on the Bongo Beat" and "Nancy and the Colonel," taped at a November concert in Freiburg.

As one of Edelhagen's goals was to emulate his role model, Stan Kenton, it's interesting that the album should open with the Glenn Miller favorite "Tuxedo Junction," a song recorded by the Kenton Orchestra some five years later on the album Live from the Las Vegas Tropicana. Track 2, Roland Kovac's "3x2," doesn't try to hide the fact that it is actually "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To." A shame that soloists aren't credited, as most of them are quite good. We do know that's baritone Helmut Reinhardt on "Tuxedo Junction" and "3x2," alto Franz von Klenck on "You Go to My Head," the admirable Werner Drexler wherever a piano solo is called for (save for Williams' two appearances), as on his back-to-back features, "St. Louis Blues," "The Man I Love" and Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays."

Valente sings (quite well) on "They Can't Take That Away from Me" and "Pennies from Heaven," two of ten standards that are amplified by Williams' numbers, Lester Young's "Lester Leaps In," Al Killian's "On the Upbeat" and Kovac's closing "Alpha Jazz." Sound quality is well above par for an album recorded in the '50s, much of it in concert, while the ensemble is exemplary throughout, equal in many respects to Erwin Lehn's outstanding Sudfunk Jazz Orchester (now the SWR Big Band). For those who've not had the pleasure, a delightful introduction to the splendid Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra.


Tracks: Tuxedo Junction; 3x2; You Go to My Head; St. Louis Blues; The Man I Love; Yesterdays; Blues on the Bongo Beat; Nancy and the Colonel; You Go to My Head; Lester Leaps In; Tuxedo Junction; The Man I Love; They Can't Take That Away from Me; Pennies from Heaven; On the Upbeat; Easy to Love; There's No You; Alpha Jazz.

Personnel: Kurt Edelhagen: leader; Hans Gottfried "Hanne" Wilfert: trumpet; Rolf Schneebiegl: trumpet; Siegfried Achhammer: trumpet; Klaus Mitschele: trumpet; Helmut Reinhardt: alto, baritone sax; Franz von Klenck: alto sax; Paul Martin: tenor sax; Kurt "Bubi" Aderhold: tenor sax; Johnny Feigl: baritone sax; Heinz Herrmannsdorfer: trombone; Otto Bredl: trombone; Werner Betz: trombone; Helmut Hauck: trombone; Werner Drexler: piano; Werner Schulze: bass; Bobby Schmidt: drums. Special Guests—Mary Lou Williams: piano (7, 8); Caterina Valente: vocals (13, 14).

Track Listing: Tuxedo Junction; 3x2; You Go to My Head; St. Louis Blues; The Man I Love; Yesterdays; Blues on the Bongo Beat; Nancy and the Colonel; You Go to My Head; Lester Leaps In; Tuxedo Junction; The Man I Love; They Can’t Take That Away from Me; Pennies from Heaven; On the Upbeat; Easy to Love; There’s No You; Alpha Jazz.

Personnel: Kurt Edelhagen: leader; Hans Gottfried “Hanne” Wilfert: trumpet; Rolf Schneebiegl: trumpet; Siegfried Achhammer: trumpet; Klaus Mitschele: trumpet; Helmut Reinhardt: alto, baritone sax; Franz von Klenck: alto sax; Paul Martin: tenor sax; Kurt “Bubi” Aderhold: tenor sax; Johnny Feigl: baritone sax; Heinz Herrmannsdorfer: trombone; Otto Bredl: trombone; Werner Betz: trombone; Helmut Hauck: trombone; Werner Drexler: piano; Werner Schulze: bass; Bobby Schmidt: drums. Special Guests — Mary Lou Williams: piano (7, 8); Caterina Valente: vocals (13, 14).

Title: Orchester Kurt Edelhagen: Big Bands Live | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Arthaus Musik


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