Harry James & His Orchestra: The Complete Harry James In Hi-Fi

The distinctive trumpeter, much admired by Miles Davis, wasn't at his jazziest on the title album but here it's paired with Wild About Harry!


This album reprised many of his band’s mid-40s hits from a time when Harry James was appearing in the movie The Benny Goodman Story. It’s anything but a heavy-duty jazz date but there is still much to enjoy – although the less said about Ciribiribin the better. The All Music Guide To Jazz gave the album two stars.

The leader’s powerful sound with the broadest of vibratos was a unique instrumental voice and much admired by Miles Davis, which may surprise some. He is front and centre throughout and Sleepy Lagoon, You Made Me Love You, Trumpet Blues, Two O’Clock Jump and September Song are all fine examples of his artistry.

The sax section led by Willie Smith, one of the finest lead altos of his generation, opens Cherry with a sumptuous saxophone soli. Smith has brief solos on James Session and Street Scene.

The delightful Helen Forrest revisits two of her biggest hits with the band – I’ve Heard That Song Before and I Cried For You. Recorded in 1942 they both sold over one million copies. She also covers I’m Beginning To See The Light and It’s Been A Long, Long Time, which were originally big sellers for Kitty Kallen when she was with James in 1945 and 1946.

EJC has included additional material not on the original Complete release and has also added the Wild About Harry! album, which has considerably more jazz content. James’ big sound naturally dominates proceedings but two of his stellar sidemen share the solo spotlight. Willie Smith spreads some Hodges-style magic on Blue Again, These Foolish Things, What Am I Here For, In A Sentimental Mood and Barn 12.

Pete Christlieb once described Corky Corcoran’s tenor sound to me as just like a “tree trunk”. Very apt, because he muscles his way here through Crazy Rhythm, Strictly Instrumental, Blues For A Count and Blues For Harry’s Sake with Hawkins-like authority. The All Music Guide To Jazz awarded this album three stars.

CD1: (1) [The Complete Harry James In Hi-Fi] Cherry; Jalousie; Sleepy Lagoon; You Made Me Love You; Trumpet Blues; I’ve Heard That Song Before; I’m Beginning To See The Light; It’s Been A Long, Long Time: I Cried For You; My Silent Love; Velvet Moon; James Session; Music Makers; Ciribiribin; Two O’clock Jump; The Mole; Carnival; Autumn Serenade; Street Scene; September Song (68.28)
CD2: Blue Again; Melancholy Rhapsody; These Foolish Things; Somebody Loves Me; Sleepy Time Gal; Don’cha Go ’Way Mad; Crazy Rhythm; Strictly Instrumental; April In Paris; Walkin’ Home; Smogbound; In A Sentimental Mood; (2) [Wild About Harry!] Blues For A Count; Countin’; What Am I Here For?; Kinda Like The Blues; Cotton Pickin’; Blues For Harry’s Sake; Blues For Lovers Only; Bee Gee; Barn 12; Ring For Porter (72.18)
James (t) with: 
(1) Collectively: Nick Buono; Phil Cook, Everett McDonald, Ralph Osborn, Conrad Gozzo (t); Lew McGreary, Hoyt Bohannon, Roy Main, Juan Tizol, Dick Nash (tb); George Roberts (btb); Willie Smith, Herb Lorden (as); Pat Chartrand, Jeff Massingill, Corky Corcoran, Herbie Steward (ts); Bob Poland, Tom Suthers (bar); Doug Parker, Larry Kinnamon (p); Allan Reuss, Tiny Timbrell (elg); Bob Stone, Joe Comfort (b); Gene Estes, Buddy Combine (d); Helen Forrest, Bob Barlo, The Starlighters (v); nine-piece string section. Los Angeles, 1955, 1956.
(2) Nick Buono, Bob Rolfe, Don Paladino, Art Depew (t); Bob Edmondson, Robert Robinson, Ray Sims (tb); Willie Smith (as); Herb Lorden (cl, as); Corky Corcoran, Francis Polifroni (ts); Ernie Small (bar); Larry Kinnamon (p); Allan Reuss (elg); Russ Phillips (b); Buddy Rich (d). Los Angeles, May 1957.
Essential Jazz Classics EJC55783