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Compulsion to Swing in Rhythm

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Album Review

While its va-va-voom Jayne Mansfield cover art guarantees the otherwise tame Music for Bachelors remains Henri René's best-known and most sought-after LP, far better are its RCA follow-ups Compulsion to Swing and Riot in Rhythm, both reissued on this two-fer CD. The bold and brassy Compulsion to Swing boasts kaleidoscopic arrangements and oddball instrumental pairings to rival any of space age pop's most daring flights of fantasy. Featuring talents including trumpeter Doc Severinsen, guitarist Al Caiola, and trombonist Urbie Green, the album offers delightfully eccentric interpretations of swing perennials spanning from "Cry Me a River" to "Just a Gigolo" to "'S Wonderful," exploiting the full scope of RCA's Living Stereo technology to create a multidimensional listening experience best described as controlled chaos. Riot in Rhythm delivers the hard-driving mayhem its title promises, and while it's a bit uneven, the increasing depth of René's fusion of exotica and big-band jazz is undeniably impressive. Like its predecessor, Riot in Rhythm maximizes the promise of stereo separation, but the music never resorts to cheap gimmicks and ploys — even on goofy throwaways like "Hansel and Pretzel" and "Mangos," René makes sure his style includes a healthy dollop of substance.


Genre: Classical

Years Active: '50s

Conductor and arranger Henri Rene was born and raised in Germany, where he studied at Berlin's Royal Academy of Music; he emigrated to the U.S. during the mid-1920s, appearing with a series of orchestras before returning to Berlin a few years later to serve as an arranger with a German record label. Rene came back to the States in 1936 to accept the position of musical director with RCA-Victor's international arm; in 1941, he also formed his own orchestra. After serving with the Allied forces in...
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Compulsion to Swing in Rhythm, Henri René
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