From the time Mildred Bailey joined Paul Whiteman's band in 1929, becoming the first prominent big band girl singer," her crystal clear tone and impeccable phrasing made Bailey a major influence on both jazz and popular vocal styles. From her deep early impact on Bing Crosby to her strong influence on Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney, Mildred Bailey has inspired countless vocalists.
The Complete Columbia Recordings of Mildred Bailey (10 CD's) includes more than 200 performances recorded between 1929 and 1942, when she was one of the most prolific and popular singers, outselling most of the era's female vocalists, with the exception of Billie Holiday. After leaving Whiteman in 1933 along with vibraphonist Red Norvo, to whom she was now married (and would remain so until 1943), Mildred and Red formed their own group to focus on a purer jazz style. With a penchant for improvisation, and a highly personal sense of style and jazz phrasing, Mildred really hit her stride in 1936, developing a huge radio audience from their regular featured spot at New York's Commodore Hotel. Performing with smaller, more intimate ensembles of 6 to 12 pieces, and with the brilliant arrangements of the acclaimed Eddie Sauter, Mildred and Red became known as Mr. And Mrs. Swing.
For their numerous Columbia sessions Mildred and Red recorded interchangeably under each other's name, often using the identical personnel only days apart, and producing a series of hits. The boxed set also contains a variety of other all-star sessions and collaborations with some of the most popular performers of the era, including:
- Early sessions with the Dorsey Brothers in 1933
- 1934 studio sessions with Benny Goodman, featuring Coleman Hawkins, and a 1939 Goodman orchestra date with arrangements by Fletcher Henderson and Sauter
- John Hammond-produced all-star sessions (1935-37), including such legends as Ben Webster, Teddy Wilson, Chu Berry, Artie Shaw, Buck Clayton, Herschel Evans and Mary Lou Williams
- Various dates with John Kirby's Orchestra
- Mildred's sessions with Roy Eldridge in 1937 and 1940, with arrangements by Sauter and Alec Wilder
- And 18 previously unissued performances, including sessions with Eddie Lang, Frankie Trumbauer and Glen Gray's Casa Loma Orchestra
As always, the set includes detailed liner notes, in this case by Will Friedwald, who covers the music in full and explores Mildred's life through interviews with various individuals who worked with her, including Norvo, Sauter and Mitch Miller. Peppered with dozens of photographs, many seen for the first time, the set also contains an updated discography that sets the facts straight after decades of inaccurate information.
Of course, no effort has been spared in beautifully restoring the music through new sound transfers, in most cases from the original metal parts, mastered by engineer and archivist Doug Pomeroy, and produced for release by Scott Wenzel.
Released sporadically over the years, many of these tracks are available here for the first time since their original release on 78s, providing further testament to the importance of this often overlooked, but extraordinary artist.
On February 1st, Mosaic Records will release The Complete Vee Jay Paul Chambers-Wynton Kelly Sessions 1954-61 (6 CD's).
It is requested that all reviews or articles include the following: All recordings are available solely through Mosaic Records; 35 Melrose Place; Stamford, CT. 06902; (203) 327-7111." Check their website at www.mosaicrecords.com for more information or to place an order.