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Band Box Shuffle

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Album Review

While most of Bennie Moten's music has been released, a single and complete volume of his important Victor recordings is still missing. Now there's Hep's Band Box Shuffle, which takes in Moten's prime 1929-1932 stretch for the company via 47 superbly remastered tracks. And mirroring the sterling transfers engineer John R.T. Davies has supplied, the liner notes, written by jazz photographer and historian Frank Driggs, provide a hugely readable and exhaustive account of the group's history. Of course, that history recounts the Moten band's position as one of the best of the many territory bands to emerge in the Southwest during the '20s, which was due in no small part to the presence of Count Basie and many of the other stars who would help him form his own big band in the '30s. Basie's future jump fleetness is especially evident on the ten classic 1932 sides that close this set, notably complex barnstormers like "Toby," "Lafayette," and "Moten Swing." The likes of Ben Webster, Hot Lips Page, and Walter Page all contribute to the fine swing. A good share of the remaining tracks, while often maligned in relation to these later cuts, have worn well, too — clunky tuba, accordion, and all.

Band Box Shuffle, Bennie Moten Orchestra
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