Before there was the King Of Swing (Benny Goodman), before bandleaders ascended to royalty (Count Basie, Earl Hines, The Duke--the latter was around but didn't fully "flower" 'til the late 20s), there was Fletcher Henderson. Henderson was one of the principal architects of the big band sound and style--one of the musical figures that was the bridge between the New Orleans/Chicago sound and the more arranged Swing Era large group/big band style. This superb set collects a cross-section of his music, covering the years 1924-1940, and features many musicians who would go on to varying measures of stardom: Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, Ray Nance, Chu Berry and John Kirby. Driving up-tempo tunes like "Sugar Foot Stomp" put the brassy New Orleans/Chicago swagger into a tightly and cleverly arranged context, where soloists could shine and the rhythms could move the dancers of the Jazz Age.
The young Glenn Miller must have been taking notes when he heard the elegantly humorous mid-tempo "Hot And Anxious," as chunks of the song turn up in his "In The Mood." The jaunty "Happy Feet" with its madly driving rhythm pointed the way for the dance bands to rouse the crowds to the dancefloor. "Grand Terrace Swing" and "Jim Town Blues" used the contrast of rich ensemble voicings and hot solos that would be the blueprint for large-ensemble jazz to come. Though others would build on what he did (at the height of his heyday, Benny Goodman employed Henderson as an arranger), the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra was a springboard for many awesome jazz talents, and they laid the groundwork for both the Swing Era and the big band format which endures today. Besides, they had FUN & so will you!