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Feet Draggin' Blues '44 -'47

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Album Review

Feet Draggin' Blues, 1944-1947 showcases 20 songs by Harry James and his band. The band is occasionally accompanied by a large string section, and the album features several tracks recorded by his small groups. The strings and the accompanying heavy James vibrato is employed for such ballads as the hauntingly beautiful "Stella by Starlight." The hot stuff is seen mostly on tunes arranged and composed with Ray Conniff, like "Friar Rock" where the James vibrato is far less conspicuous. Conniff was doing the bulk of the arranging at this time and there is a hint of the style he later adopted when leading his own band, but fortunately for James, at this point in time, Conniff's arrangements were still interesting. The small group is heard on such numbers as "I'm Confessin." That James had at least a feel for the blues is shown on "East Coast Blues."

During this period, James' bands were, as usual, loaded with top-flight musicians and most of them are heard soloing. Willie Smith is not only heard on alto, but he sings on "Who's Sorry Now." Other outstanding individual efforts come from Corky Corcoran, Juan Tizol, Babe Russin, and a rare introduction by guitarist Allan Reuss on "I'm Beginning to See the Light," where Kitty Kallen is featured on vocals. Even in the early 40s there is a premonition of what was to come with the Basie-like "Easy." This album is an excellent cross section of what a very popular band was doing during the middle 1940s.


Born: 15 March 1916 in Albany, GA

Genre: Jazz

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

Harry James was one of the most outstanding instrumentalists of the swing era, employing a bravura playing style that made his trumpet work instantly identifiable. He was also one of the most popular bandleaders of the first half of the 1940s, and he continued to lead his band until just before his death, 40 years later. James was the child of circus performers. His father, Everette Robert James, was the bandleader and trumpet player in the orchestra for the Mighty Haag Circus, and his mother, Maybelle...
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