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Teddy Wilson: I Want to Be Happy 1944-1947

Teddy Wilson

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Album Review

After the wartime recording ban was lifted, Teddy Wilson made several nifty 78s with a succession of swing combos for Musicraft and Standard, as anthologized on this bargain-priced Naxos CD. Ranging in size from trios to octets, these combos mostly do the once-over with the old flag-wavers from the swing era and before, with an occasional concession to the present such as a preview of Kurt Weill's "Moon-Faced, Starry-Eyed" (from "Street Scene"), lit up by the dusky tenor sax of Charlie Ventura. In the 1944-45 quintets and sextets, Charlie Shavers always does pungently delightful things on muted and open trumpet, and Red Norvo's vibes are always on target. Buck Clayton and Ben Webster are an earthier pair of soloists on some 1945-46 sextet sessions, and a 1946 quartet offers a glimpse of the sensually keening 22-year-old Sarah Vaughan on "Time After Time." Throughout, Wilson keeps up a steady stream of impeccable swinging piano licks in a style pretty much unchanged from the 1930s. As in other Naxos Jazz Legends releases, no attempt is made to arrange the numbers in chronological order. But the transfers are honest, ungimmicked, and generally better than what the major labels have offered up in the CD era. This is a good, somewhat off the beaten path historical buy. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Biography

Born: 24 November 1912 in Austin, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Teddy Wilson was the definitive swing pianist, a solid and impeccable soloist whose smooth and steady style was more accessible to the general public than Earl Hines or Art Tatum. He picked up early experience playing with Speed Webb in 1929 and appearing on some Louis Armstrong recordings in 1933. Discovered by John Hammond, Willie joined Benny Carter's band and recorded with the Chocolate Dandies later that year. In 1935, he began leading a series of classic small-group recordings with swing all-stars...
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