4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
EASY ON THE EAR?,
This review is from: Four Classic Albums (Dancing On The Ceiling / Red Norvo In Stereo / Red Plays The Blues / Music To Listen To Red Norvo By) (Audio CD)
The oldest of the four albums here is "Dancing on the Ceiling" which was recorded for Decca over four sessions between July 1952 and April 1953. To begin with the trio comprised Red Mitchell on bass and Tal Farlow on guitar, but the latter was replaced midway by Jimmy Raney. "Music to Listen to Red Norvo by" was recorded in early 1957, with a sextet that included Buddy Collette on flute, Bill Smith on clarinet, Barney Kessel on guitar, Red Mitchell, and Shelly Manne on drums. "Red Plays the Blues" was the product of two sessions; the first in January 1957, the second twelve months later, and "Red Norvo in Stereo" was recorded in March 1958. with a 13-piece orchestra.
My preference is for the two earlier albums, particularly "Dancing on the Ceiling", where the accompaniment provides the perfect setting for his vibes, which he deploys to good effect in a set of standards. The sextet album is ostensibly under Norvo's leadership, but composer/clarinettist Bill Smith is much to the fore, and the album concludes with his complex four-movement Divertimento. I suspect that for some this will be the main attraction. "Red Plays the Blues" offers four tracks from the earlier session by a sextet including Harry Edison and Ben Webster, and three by a 13-piece orchestra, with vocals on two by singer Helen Humes. Finally "Red Norvo in Stereo" offers 12 standards by a 14-piece orchestra, featuring Helen Humes on 8 tracks. Her vocals have a throaty quality in the middle register, but acquire a harsher tone as she ascends the scale, and it's that stridency which holds me back from a five-star rating.