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on 10 February 2010
There are no less than 124 titles on this most generous of Berigan compilations. Despite some strange choices and a few lamentable omissions this is a five star compilation. The five discs span the years 1931-1937 (up to his first session as a regular bandleader for Bluebird, whose recordings are covered on a number of Classics discs, now probably hard to come by, or costing their weight in gold). Not included are any of his sides with Hal Kemp (can be found on The Hot Sides 1926-1931), Frank Trumbauer (can be found on Tram 3), Billie Holiday or Gene Gifford (can be found on New York Jazz Combos 1935-37), whereas all four Glenn Miller sides, all the Red Norvo octet sides and a number of perhaps less interesting Chick Bullock sides are (all of which are readily available elsewhere).
We do get a plethora of other artists however, the Dorsey Brothers and the Boswell Sisters taking pride of place. We also find Bunny's complete pre-Bluebird recordings under his own name, as well as a number of titles which Bunny recorded with Adrian Rollini, Red McKenzie, Bud Freeman, Frankie Froeba (whose 1935 titles with Jack Purvis can be found on Jack Purvis 1928-1935 (3CD)), Mildred Bailey and fellow hard-drinker Dick McDonough (the latter's titles in much better sound quality than the McDonough CDs on Bill Hebden's label). There is a wealth of great music here in excellently remastered sound quality (said to be by JRT Davies, but I couldn't find confirmation of this in the booklets or on the discs themselves). Recording dates and personnel are listed, but no record labels (just matrix numbers) or composer credits. The liner notes are not particularly well written or informative, but the music speaks for itself.
The prices that are currently being asked for this set are absolutely ridiculous; I waited for more than a year before one offer of £ 35 came along, which I snapped up immediately. It was certainly worth it.
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