THE BIG 18 - 1958

We have big band fans... Here is a swinging one for you !

The Big 18 was a studio only big band assembled by RCA Victor Musical Director Fred Reynolds in 1958. Reynold's idea was to use some of the great songs and arrangements of the big band era while showcasing some of the star sidemen of the great bands by allowing ample time for extended solos. There were two releases by The Big 18. They were "Live Echoes Of The Swinging Bands" and "More Live Echoes Of The Swinging Bands".
Hi-fi stereo was of course a post Swing era invention. Extended recorded solos were not a luxury arrangers and band-leaders during the Big Band era were afforded as 78RPM records allowed only about three minutes per side. Under the leadership of George T. Simon the Jazztone record label in 1957 had already begun the process of grouping former Big Band era soloists in an all-star setting and recording them in hi-fi. While excellent, records like "Cootie And Rex In The Big Challenge" used primarily new material and a smaller group of ten musicians. In the same year, on Capitol, Glen Gray was recreating hits of the big band era in hi-fi with larger bands. The Gray / Capitol recordings are stiff by comparison and not nearly as exciting as the nineteen issued takes done by The Big Eighteen in the summer of 1958.
The solos, the expert arrangements written by Charles Shirley, and the incredible personnel line-up sets the RCA Big Eighteen recordings apart from most other post WWII big band alumni or all-star big band groupings. A veritable who's who of jazz and swing participated in the five recording sessions done between June 10th and July 15th, 1958. Not since the great Metronome All-Star dates during the Swing era was there a group of sidemen of this caliber assembled for recording purposes.


On the June 10th date Billy Butterfield (Shaw, Goodman); Buck Clayton (Basie); Charlie Shavers (Tommy Dorsey, John Kirby); and Rex Stewart (Ellington); are all playing trumpet. On bones we hear Lawrence Brown (Ellington); Vic Dickenson (Basie); Lou McGarity (Goodman); and Dickie Wells (Basie). Walt Levinsky (Tommy Dorsey) is on clarinet and alto; Hymie Schertzer (Goodman, Tommy Dorsey) plays alto; Sam Donahue (bandleader) and Boomie Richman (Teddy Powell, George Paxton) work tenor. Ernie Caceres (Glenn Miller) plays baritone sax.
The rhythm section for the first four sessions consists of Johnny Guarnieri (Shaw, Goodman) piano; Barry Galbraith (Thornhill, McIntyre) guitar; Milt Hinton (Cab Calloway) bass; and Jimmy Crawford (Jimmie Lunceford) on drums. Peanuts Hucko (Bradley, Spivak, Miller) was used on clarinet subbing for Levinsky on June 17th and Yank Lawson (Bob Crosby) subbed for Butterfield on trumpet for the July 8th and 15th dates. Levinsky was back in on clarrey for Hucko on July 8th and 15th. Changes to the rhythm section for 7-15 included Don Lamond (Woody Herman) on drums and Russ Saunders (Thornhill) on string bass.

1 comment:

the jazzman said...

This is a rare one. Been in my collection for a long time. Don't fail to grab it while you can.