Patrick "Spike" Hughes was a man of many talents, and these sides he cut for Decca / Brunswick in New York with an all star band (its members drawn from Luiz Russel's, Benny Carter's and Fletcher Henderson's orchestras) attest to the most memorable: composer arranger and leader. Hughes had recorded small band sides in Britain, worked as a conductor arranger and bassist and after a particularly busy season in 1933 he went on holiday to the USA where he stayed with the influential John Hammond (who a.o. put Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Teddy Wilson on their way to fame). Here germinated the idea to assemble a band containing the cream of (black) jazz musicians and record some sides. At three separate sessions fourteen sides were cut, most of them original Hughes compositions. The personel reads like a veritable who-is-who, Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry, Benny Carter, Henry "Red" Allen, Dickie Wells and Sid Catlett being the most famous. All rise to the occasion playing the often intricate arrangements with gusto and making the most of the generous solo space they are accorded. The material ranges from down to earth hot music like "Bugle Call Rag", "Someone Stole Gabriel's Horn", "Firebird" and "Sweet Sue" (the latter by a small contingent) to beautiful atmospheric gems: "Fanfare", "Pastorale", "Arabesque" and the splendid "Donegal Cradle Song" (recorded some 15 years later by Ted Heath in one of his most sumptuously arranged ballad outings). Hughes quit playing and arranging jazz after this, commenting that "anything that came later would be an anti-climax".
The remainder of the disc is filled by nine items by Benny Carter's orchestra, which are very good too, featuring a very young Teddy Wilson and Wayman Carver's flute (also present on the Hughes sides) a pity that Carter's own contributions are very short.
The music on this disc still sounds very fresh, vigorous, swinging and even modern (compared e.g. with Casa Loma's or Isham Jones's more vertical and frenetic (although very well played) outings from around the same period, which generally have dated much more) and should be included in the discography of anyone seriously interested in the development of jazz.