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Johnny Desmond

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Album Review

Recorded in 1958 for the Tops label, Johnny Desmond Swings is a loose and laid-back session — so loose, in fact, that there's an intro ("Johnny Warms Up") featuring studio chatter and Desmond exercising his vocals for the coming recording. The air of relaxation is deceptive, however; this former big-band boy singer turns many a timeworn standard inside out with an ease reminiscent of Dean Martin. And there are a lot of standards here: "All of You," "I Can't Get Started (With You)," "I Got Plenty of Nuttin'," "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," "It Ain't Necessarily So," "Tenderly," and "Old Devil Moon." (The least known song is undoubtedly Desmond's own, a solid tune named "My Happy Time.") What helps Desmond so much here is the impeccably crisp and inventive arrangements by the team of Bill Holman and John Williams. Holman had been highly praised for his excellent arrangements with Stan Kenton's orchestra during the mid-'50s, and Williams had just begun a long, fruitful career arranging and composing music for movies. As befits a consciously relaxed album, Desmond's vocal style is natural and unforced. From the talent on display here, it's a shame he wasn't given more chances to record.

Biography

Born: 14 November 1919 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Johnny Desmond's ultra-smooth vocals earned him the nickname of "The Creamer." He enjoyed success in Detroit during the 1930s before forming a foursome known as the Downbeats, which joined Bob Crosby's band, the Bob-O-Links. Desmond joined Gene Krupa's band as a lead singer in 1941, later worked with Glenn Miller's Air Force Band, and was known as "The G.I. Sinatra." He later was a featured member of Don McNeill's Breakfast...
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