The National Jazz Museum in Harlem's Savory Collection will release Vol. No. 4: Bobby Hackett and Friends exclusively on Apple Music and iTunes on December 15. The full multi-volume collection of historical archives will feature swing era jazz artists at the height of their artistry and previously unissued performances, all captured in superb sound quality by sound engineer and technical genius Bill Savory. Starting today, a sample track is available on Apple Music, and the album is available for pre-order on iTunes.
For 30 years, Loren Schoenberg, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem's founding director and senior scholar, chased down these essential recordings. This edition further emphasizes the importance and excitement of this series, of which the eminent documentarian Ken Burns said: "It's hard to think of many other historical discoveries that equal the incredible amount of new and vital information that comprises the Savory Collection."
"In being an integral part of this project since its inception, Apple Music is helping to ensure this wonderful music is not simply limited to jazz collectors' shelves but reaches a broader audience as well," said Schoenberg, of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
As the title emphasizes, the outstanding cornetist Bobby Hackett is prominently featured -- on three tracks with his own ensembles and four as a participant led by the fine clarinetist Joe Marsala, with whose group Hackett made his initial impact on the New York scene in 1937. Admired by trumpet giants from Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis throughout his 40-year career, Hackett was already leading his own ensembles by the time of the recordings that open this album after gaining notoriety through his performance with Benny Goodman in his legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.
Here he joins baritone saxophonist Ernie Caceres and pianist Joe Bushkin, with Carmen Mastren, Sam Shoobe and George Wettling on guitar, bass and drums respectively, all under Marsala's keen leadership for a quartet of rollicking extended pieces filled with dynamic ensemble work and inspired solos. These late 1937 recordings contain the popular standards "California, Here I Come" and "The Sheik of Araby," as well as blues classics "Jazz Me Blues" and "When Did You Leave Heaven" (also covered by heavyweights like Big Bill Broonzy and Bob Dylan).
A Hackett ensemble's participation on a 1938 Paul Whiteman radio broadcast bring us the beautiful Gershwin ballad "Embraceable You" and a stomping take on Kid Ory's "Muskrat Ramble," with Hackett joined by the brilliant Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, arranger/valve trombonist Brad Gowans, the piano/bass/drums team of Dave Bowman, Clyde Newcombe and Andy Picard, and legendary guitarist Eddie Condon -- whose equally legendary "Condon's Mob" included Hackett as an integral member. Two years later Hackett got together with an NBC house band to add his own brief but memorable contribution to the "Body and Soul" legacy (to be extended seven years later with his beautiful solo on Frank Sinatra's unforgettable version).
Listeners will also discover three extremely rare recordings by the immortal pianist Teddy Wilson's 13-piece orchestra, virtually unrecorded in live performances. Recently discovered and to this point the only excellent high audio quality (superb, at that) recordings of this group, these 1939 items feature such masters as tenorman Ben Webster, trumpeters Doc Cheatham and Shorty Baker, altoist/clarinetist Rudy Powell and the sparkling rhythm section of Al Casey, Al Hall and J.C. Heard on guitar, bass and drums. With Wilson's majestic virtuosity front and center, the band was structured for smooth transitions and elegant voicings, employing the rare -- for its time -- two trumpet/two trombone brass section creating a uniquely singing dynamic that was as graceful as its leader's singular artistry and presence.
Powell wrote and arranged the lyrical and intricate "Cocoanut Groove," while Wilson arranged the delightful "Sweet Lorraine" and the romping "Jitterbug Jump;" the former marked by a lovely saxophone quartet and warm ensemble, with beautiful solos by Wilson and Webster; and the tenorman stretching out with an appropriately explosive offering on the latter.
Martin Block, famed for hosting terrific jam sessions (including the aforementioned Joe Marsala excursions) also hosted the two loosely structured, but highly energetic 1939 jams here, led by the spectacular trombone titan Jack Teagarden. Joined by Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Kenneth Hollon on tenor, pianist Bill Miller, guitarist Teddy Bunn, Johnny Williams on bass and the drummer and wildman scat-singer Leo Watson, they tear into two pieces perfect for jamming - Andy Razaf and Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose" and the Harry Warren/Johnny Mercer's then-current hit "Jeepers Creepers." As an added highlight on the latter, Johnny Mercer makes an unusual appearance alongside Teagarden and Watson for a highly spirited vocal trio.
This delightful album closes with three pieces (taken from two separate radio broadcasts) by one of the most popular of the Swing-era big bands, the Glenn Miller Orchestra -- all featuring the leader's right-hand man (and eventual successor after Miller's tragic wartime death) Tex Beneke on tenor sax and vocals. From 1938, Miller's arrangement of "By the Waters of the Minnetonka" follows in the tom-tom driven spirit of Benny Goodman's fabulous Carnegie Hall version of "Sing Sing Sing." The 1940 broadcast gives us two of Miller's most iconic pieces, "Tuxedo Junction" and "In the Mood." Although less jazz-oriented than the band would become after Hackett joined shortly after this broadcast, the exuberant sense of swing and joy that made the Miller orchestra so wildly popular is fully apparent throughout.
Of this latest essential release, co-produced by Loren Schoenberg and Ken Druker, with the superb original recordings raised to perfection through the restoration and mastering wizardry of Doug Pomeroy, Schoenberg says: "To be able to share never-before-heard music created by great American artists such as Teddy Wilson and Bobby Hackett is such a thrill -- just like an old wine, they improve with age! So much of the music of the Era was played in the musical equivalent of capital letters; these performances are such a joy to hear from bands that played with the lower-case letters too; so relaxed and flowing."