Swingville Records was launched by Bob Weinstock, the founder of the Prestige label, in 1959 in order to document the music of the original generation of swing musicians, whose music was then in relative disfavor and who were beginning to pass from the scene. Weinstock booked sessions for the label from 1959 to 1962, and managed to capture performances by some of the biggest names of th Swing Era, and by some of the musicians who never established big names, but made immeasurable contributions to the music of their era just the same.
Most of the names that appear on this disc are of men no longer with us, making Weinstock's efforts all the more valuable today. Thirteen of the eighteen tracks are from those original Swingville sessions, with leaders including Coleman Hawkins, Claude Hopkins, Benny Carter, Ben Webster, Shorty Baker, Doc Cheatham, Buck Clayton and Pee Wee Russell, among others. Among the more noteworthy sidemen on the Swingville sessions are Tommy Flanagan, Ray Bryant, Mel Lewis and Barney Bigard, with many of the leaders already mentioned taking supporting roles on one another's albums, as well. There's a wealth of talent among those named, and it just scratches the surface.
The disc is rounded out with five more performances from the Fantasy vaults (Fantasy Records being the current custodian of the Prestige and Swingville catalogs, among many more) that feature music sympathetic in style to the Swingville sides. They range from one of Django Reinhardt's first recordings with the Hot Club Of France to a 1990's "authentic recreation" of a swing session ;ed by Duke Heitger.
Since the Swingville sessions, swing music has gone through a series of reappraisals and revivals, and today it occupies its deserved place among the favorite jazz styles. Thanks to Weinstock's vision, we can here these recordings of some of the original players in action. All of the material is in release under the Original Jazz Classics imprint, and this sampler can serve as an excellent pointer to where you'll find the sounds you like best.