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Boyd Meets Stravinsky

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Album Review

The Boyd Raeburn Orchestra never achieved much popularity with the general public, but it was admired by many top musicians of the bebop era as one of the most innovative large ensembles, on a par with the more well-known Stan Kenton band. Among the prominent musicians to have played with Raeburn were trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Harris; saxophonists Johnny Bothwell, Al Cohn, and Serge Chaloff; drummers Don Lamond and Shelly Manne; and bassist Oscar Pettiford. This superb album is comprised of tracks recorded by the band at its creative peak in the mid-'40s. The arrangements and original compositions by pianist George Handy acknowledge developments in 20th-century classical music up to that time, melding poly-tonality, shifting meters, and irregular rhythms with bebop and contemporary big band techniques. The musicianship is absolutely top-notch. In terms of ensemble execution, the Raeburn band was nearly unsurpassed, and the solos — while often talking a backseat to the compositions themselves — are frequently excellent. Of particular note is the work of the Johnny Hodges-inspired alto saxophonist Bothwell. Handy's fanciful arrangements occasionally go off the deep end, but the extent of his creativity was considerable, and the balance of artistry and kitsch usually weighs in favor of the former.

Biography

Born: 27 October 1913 in Faith, SD

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s

Boyd Raeburn was never much of a soloist, but his short-lived big bands in the mid-'40s featured some of the most advanced arrangements of the time, particularly those of George Handy. Raeburn actually started out leading commercial orchestras in the 1930s, and it was not until 1944 that his music became relevant to jazz. That year, he had a forward-looking swing band that included at various times such players as Benny Harris, the Johnny Hodges-influenced Johnny Bothwell, Serge Chaloff, Roy Eldridge,...
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Boyd Meets Stravinsky, Boyd Raeburn
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