There simply was not a better swing oriented big band in the 1950's than the one led by Great Britain's Ted Heath. It recorded prolifically throughout the 1950's with a consistency that was remarkable. It was truly a British band with members from both Scotland and England. It was far from being an innovative band like Stan Kenton, for example, but it was nonetheless very good at what it did.
This collection contains two albums from roughly the early to mid 1950's. Both carry that Heath trademark of top flight musicians and arrangments (usually by Johnny Keating, Ralph Dollimore and the pianist, Frank Horrox). Virtually every album the Heath band recorded was very organized and formulated.
Every good band must have a good rhythm section and the Heath band's was second to none featuring Frank Horrox, piano; Johnny Hawksworth (poll winner) on bass and Ronnie Verrell (poll winner) on drums.
Both STRIKE UP THE BAND and the FATS WALLER ALBUM feature ballads and uptempo swingers, giving the fine soloists some stretching room here and there. VANESSA from STRIKE UP THE BAND is a fine example of varying uptempos in the same tune.
Anyone who has never heard this fine band and who appreciates pure big band swing will find much to be pleased with in this collection as they will with virtually any Heath recording from the 1950's.
But to really appreciate this band you need to hear their London Palladium, Carnegie & Kingsway Hall records. In those settings, this band was simply awesome and is some of the best straight ahead big band jazz ever made. Completely different from their studio sessions. Hopefully Dutton/Vocallion in their great vision will see fit to release them on cd (fortunately I still have them all on l.p.)
But for the swing oriented big band lover, this two-fer will prove very satisfying.