The Red Norvo Collection 1933-60
Catalogue Number: FADCD2051
Known as “Mr. Swing”, Red Norvo was an unusual figure in early jazz, being an exponent of the xylophone and marimba (and later the vibraphone), which were not regular features in jazz ensembles of the time, but he went on to become an important personality in the genre whose work retained relevance into the post-war bebop and cool school era. This excellent-value 40-track collection, which includes a number of recordings of extended length, encompasses a period of close to four decades from some of his first recordings in the early ‘30s through to a hiatus in his recording career in the early ‘60s. It includes work in both small and large ensembles, with a small selection of recordings featuring his wife, the singer Mildred Bailey, from the late ‘30s, and it is a fine showcase for his flowing improvisations in all those contexts. The quality of the recordings is underlined by the remarkable roll-call of top names with whom he recorded over the years from swing legends like Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Charlie Barnet and Harry James through to bebop stars like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, and the collection includes some tracks by his highly noted trio of the ‘50s with Charlie Mingus and Tal Farlow. It is a very entertaining tribute to an artist who has not received the attention he merits.