The Early Years encompasses three sessions by trumpeter Ray Anthony’s dance–oriented orchestras. The plural is used because the first of these bands, which Anthony led for a time, was the U.S. Navy’s “Dolphins,” based first in Hawaii and later, at the end of World War II, on Okinawa. Tracks 1–10, by the Navy band, were recorded at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu in 1945; tracks 11–14 were recorded by Anthony’s post–war band at New York’s Roseland Ballroom in 1946, tracks 15–18 at an undisclosed location for an American Forces broadcast in 1949. Anthony’s orchestras were fashioned, as we said, mainly for dancing, much like those of Les Brown, Harry James, the Dorsey brothers or the Elgarts, most of whom normally earmarked more space for improvisation than Anthony, whose James–like trumpet is often the only solo voice heard. The reason for Anthony’s popularity is clear; in an era in which dancing was popular, his orchestra gave dancers a sumptuous backdrop for their pursuit with no unpleasant interludes. What Anthony didn’t have, at least when these recordings were made, was a knockout singer like Sinatra, Helen Forrest, Jo Stafford, Ray Eberle or others of their stature. Hank Grad, Chuck Fonda, Dee Keating and Billy Johnson simply can’t compete in that arena. Aside from that these air–checks are fine, with generally good sound and balance, and Anthony enthusiasts should find them pleasing. Many of Anthony’s more recent recordings have been reissued as Compact Discs on his own Aero Space label, and are also worth checking out.
Track listing: Chloe; East of the Sun; How Many Hearts Have You Broken; Candy; Coquette; My Postwar Plans with You; I’m Beginning to See the Light; Trees; Accentuate the Positive; Ten O’Clock Curfew; Night and Day; I Can’t Give You Anything But Love; Embraceable You; Melancholy Baby; Let’s Fall in Love; Summertime; Carioca; Darktown Strutters Ball (50:18).
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