Talk about bad timing, bad luck, and bad choices. Jack Teagarden (1905-1964), one of the greatest-ever jazz trombonists, was active since the 1920s, swingin' with such icons of le jazz hot
as Louis Armstrong, Eddie Condon, and Fats Waller. In the mid-30s, when the Big Band Era was exploding, Teagarden was under contract to Paul Whiteman's band, whose "hipness factor" was on the decline. It wasn't until 1939 that 'T' got a big band together, and the disc at hand collects 24 (yes!) tracks from that year.
Teagarden's technique on trombone had the best of both worlds of brass: the croon-like melodiousness of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller (both avowed admirers of JT) and the blues-bred rascality and audaciousness of Louis Armstrong. While no Sinatra or Crosby (not David, but Bing, for younger readers), he had a nice singing voice, a sort-of bluesy Sinatra-style croon as it might have emanated from a small town in Texas (from whence JT hails), or a smoother Hoagy Carmichael or Harry Connick Jr. His 1939 band was definitely not in the same league(s) as those of the Duke, the Count, Benny the G(oodman), Jimmie Lunceford (whose band was Glenn Miller's favorite), and Artie Shaw -- and it's clearly the presence of Teagarden, some occasional Dixieland/hot jazz overtones, and the pervasive joie de vive are what makes these recordings really matter. (Oh, and it contains a previously unissued track, "If What You Say Is True.") While neophytes might be better served investigating Mr. T via his recordings with Armstrong, Condon or the small-group sides under his own leadership, aficionados of T and/or Swing Era collectors will find lots to groove on here.