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Various: The Haunted House

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This album was issued just in time for Halloween with a 20 tune play list of songs about skeletons, ghosties and ghoulies and other "things that go bump in the night". Obviously designed to create the proper atmosphere for that one time during the year - - Halloween - - when households are threatened with all manner of devious tricks unless a ransom in the form of a treat is paid post haste. These tributes are usually deposited in a bag gripped by someone under 4 feet tall accompanied by a parent or older sibling.

This is fun jazz coming mostly from the 1920's, 30's and 40's played by many different performers, some better than others. "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm" is a vivid and humorous description of the circumstances surrounding the beheading of Henry VIII's favorite wife Anne Boleyn. It is sung by Cyril Smith backed by Rudy Vallee's Connecticut Yankees. Some tunes have a scary title, but they aren't eerie at all. "Satanic Blues" is great Chicago style playing by tenor man Bud Freeman and his Summa Cum Laude Orchestra, but is not likely to create one iota of fear in anyone. In addition to the fine tenor from Freeman, Pee Wee Russell and Max Kaminksy contribute some sizzling solos on clarinet and trumpet, respectively. Bing Crosby shows up with The Rhythmaires doing "The Headless Horseman" from a December 1947 recording. This reaffirms that Crosby could make anything sound good, even this harmless piece of fluff. There's a couple of Bessie Smith pieces which also aren't too frightening. Louis Armstrong joins the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra with a very scary tale about a resident skeleton. Others on the album include Artie Shaw, Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton. Whether or not the music sends shivers up and down your spine, these jazz vignettes from the past will be enjoyed any time of the year. Ray Noble puts the whole thing in perspective with "The Haunted House" affirming that the only good spirit is "one that comes in a bottle". The tracks on this CD are made even more enjoyable through the work of eminent audio technologist, Robert Parker. His remastering techniques result in better sound than the original recording. Discographers will soon discover that some of the recording dates cited are incorrect like Shaw's recording of "Mysterioso" which was cut on August 2, 1945, not August 14. Recommended anyway.


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