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Hollywood Swing & Jazz
Hot Numbers From Classic M-G-M,
Warner Bros., and RKO Films


In the caste of record collector geeks, Rhino must occupy the top position, somewhere above your friend who makes the best mixed tapes, and well above the used-record store clerk who knows more about the Dave Clark Five than he does about his own family. They can all point you in the direction of music you didn't know you needed and may not have discovered on your own. But what sets Rhino apart is that they don't discriminate: the good, the bad, and the guilty pleasures, Rhino catalogues decades of great tunes. From early R&B to disco, from old school rap to punk in any of its proto/post incarnations, Rhino delivers.

With Hollywood Swing & Jazz (Rhino Movie Music/Turner Classic Movies Music) Rhino has once again hit it out of the park. This two-disc set chronicles great swing and jazz music that appeared in commercially released Hollywood films, both features and shorts, from 1934 through the mid-'60s. Since the music is presented in roughly chronological order, the entire set plays almost as a testament to the early evolution of 20th Century jazz.

 ATOMIC AUDIO

Hear Samples of
Hollywood Swing & Jazz

Operator 13: Congo Fever
Freddie Rich & His Orchestra: You're An Education
All the Fine Young Cannibals: God Bless The Child

(Requires Windows Media)

Disc one is the more fascinating, representing the era when jazz was the pop music of the day. We get the lively, danceable sounds of big bands, performed by such greats as Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Dorothy Dandridge, and Louis Armstrong. There's a smokin' version of "One O'clock Jump" by Jimmy Dorsey, and a Bill "Bojangles" Robinson dance number that's priceless. Listeners are also treated to unused versions and outtakes, including the complete Duke Ellington version of "All God's Chillin' Got Rhythm" from A Day at the Races.

By disc two, we're in the '50s and '60s, when rock 'n' roll supplanted jazz as the music kids were digging and we move more into be-bop and the lush arrangements voiced by crooners. Although the Hollywood cheese factor starts to run high, the second disc is redeemed by a wonderful outtake from The Strip of Louis Armstrong doing "Ain't Misbehavin'." (However, much of its running time is padded out with Andre Previn's score from The Subterraneans).

The liner notes by Will Friedwald are complete and instructive, though one might question why he all but sidesteps the troubling racial issues that were in evidence in the early days of the film industry, replete with shuckin' and jivin' and on-screen segregation. But the music is the thing, and it's hard to fault Rhino for getting it only 98 percent perfect.

- Christian Puffer



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