Cab Calloway's eccentric personality and wild onstage antics often overshadowed his musical contributions, when in fact, as this superb Columbia sampler demonstrates, the two went hand in hand. On all-time classic tracks like "The Jumpin' Jive," "Reefer Man," and the inexhaustible "Minnie the Moocher," the Hi-Di-Ho man's exuberance and vitality as a performer is grounded by his tight bandleading and the outstanding playing of his orchestra (which, over the years, included such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Barefield and Chu Berry).
Five of the best southern territory bands of the 1920s are represented on this intriguing CD: Blue Steele, Slim Lamar, Mart Britt, Sunny Clapp, and Phil Baxter. The only sidemen who became known a little bit later on were cornetist Tony Almerico, clarinetist Sidney Arodin, and pianist Terry Shand (with guests Hoagy Carmichael and guitarist Roy Smeck), but the musicianship is pretty decent and the music generally swings well. Serious 1920s jazz collectors will want this CD, which is full of worthy obscurities.
Victor Aloysius Meyers was born in mid -1898 as the 15th of 16 children in Little Falls, Minnesota. Vic's father was County Treasurer for Morris County, Minnesota, a position he held for 30 years. When the family moved West to Oregon in the mid-'teens, Vic started on a musical career. He could play violin, but by the age of 18, he was a drummer in a three piece group that played each summer at Seaside, an ocean resort. At 21, in 1919 he got a two year contract to play with a full size band in the Rose Room in Seattle’s Hotel Butler, located at the corner of 2nd Avenue and James Street. Its construction started around 1900 and when it opened it "immediately became the jewel in the City’s crown. Its lavish Rose Room grill featured magnificent cuisine in an atmosphere of top recording orchestras, cut-glass chandeliers, thick imported carpets and sterling silver."
First of the Big Bands is a studio album by Tony Ashton of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, released in April 1974 by Purple Records in the UK and Europe and Warner Bros. Records in the US. The project was Ashton's and Lord's brainchild and continuation of their working relationship after Ashton Gardner & Dyke helped out on Jon Lord's soundtrack album The Last Rebel from 1971. Stylistically, First of the Big Bands was the precursor to Paice Ashton Lord's Malice in Wonderland album from 1977. Most of the album was recorded at Air and Apple Studios, London, with additional work being completed at De Lane Lea and Island.