Jazz musicians of any renown will eventually tour and record in Japan, but Midge Williams must be the only American artist whose recording career actually began there. She recorded in both Japanese and English in the '30s, working with local groups in China as well as Japan - all signs of the accomplished versatility that would later make her in demand with great jazz bandleaders such as Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, and Teddy Wilson. This singer was not always content to be a vocalist in someone else's band, no matter how big their names were, so she also fronted her own group known as Midge Williams & Her Jazz Jesters.
Volume three in Mildred Bailey's Classics chronology revives 24 excellent recordings she made for the Vocalion label between January 19, 1937 and March 14, 1938. During this period, Bailey sang on quite a number of recordings issued (and subsequently reissued) under the name of her third husband, xylophonist Red Norvo. Everything on this compilation came out under the name of Mildred Bailey & Her Orchestra. A glance at the enclosed discography substantiates a claim made by producer Anatol Schenker in his liner notes: "The small band recordings made by Mildred Bailey in the late thirties certainly bear comparison with those made by Billie Holiday"…
The basic and pleasing vocals of Maxine Sullivan are quite enjoyable. This CD has her first 23 recordings, including three songs originally released under pianist Claude Thornhill's name; Thornhill (who helped discover the singer) is on all of the selections. The original version of "Loch Lomond" is among the highlights and became a huge hit, leading to Sullivan's lightly swinging renditions of other folk songs such as "Darling Nellie Gray" and "Dark Eyes." Joined by such fine musicians as trumpeters Manny Klein, Frank Newton, Charlie Shavers and Bobby Hackett (all of whom are heard from briefly), along with the future members of the John Kirby Sextet, Maxine Sullivan is heard throughout in her early prime (she was 26-27 years old during this period).
In 1937, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton began leading a series of all-star swing recording dates. Although he would still be a member of Benny Goodman's organization for another three years, Hampton was a natural-born leader and his record dates featured top sidemen from a variety of major jazz bands. This CD begins the chronological reissue of all of this music (except alternate takes). Hampton is teamed with players from the Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington orchestras plus a large assortment of guests. Among the many highlights are "Hampton Stomp" (featuring Hampton playing rapid lines on the piano with two fingers), "Stompology," Johnny Hodges on "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and some good spots for Jonah Jones' trumpet.