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Fletcher Henderson: Blue Rhythm (1931-1933)

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Album Review

This 20-cut compilation of Fletcher Henderson recordings covers the years 1931-1933. Most agree that 1931 was a rough year for the Henderson band. Despite the presence of some great soloists, such as Coleman Hawkins, trumpeters Bobby Stark and Rex Stewart, and trombonist Benny Morton, the band's popularity continued to slide after the departure of arranger Don Redman. They were often reduced to recording crowd-pleasers for the Depression-era radio audience. That said, things began to turn around in 1932 and began to flourish again in 1933. This set chronicles the period rather well for a single disc, and the material — even "Tiger Rag," which was a dud — is well chosen and serves as a very solid musicological and historical account of the changes in the band's aesthetic quality and, consequently, its change of fortune, because as 1934 arrived, the Henderson group was back on top. The sound quality here is good to excellent and the presentation is beautifully arranged chronologically.


Born: 18 December 1897 in Cuthbert, GA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s

Fletcher Henderson was very important to early jazz as leader of the first great jazz big band, as an arranger and composer in the 1930s, and as a masterful talent scout. Between 1923-1939, quite an all-star cast of top young black jazz musicians passed through his orchestra, including trumpeters Louis Armstrong, Joe Smith, Tommy Ladnier, Rex Stewart, Bobby Stark, Cootie Williams, Red Allen, and Roy Eldridge; trombonists Charlie Green, Benny Morton, Jimmy Harrison, Sandy Williams, J.C. Higginbottham,...
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