The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings (1954-56) - Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


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"Like buried treasure reclaimed from the past, this remarkable set is like no other Bing Crosby collection ever released. Here is the great crooner and a quartet led by his longtime accompanist Buddy Cole, occasionally augmented by a few wind instruments, in a thesaurus of 160 songs recorded in the most informal of circumstances at 16 sessions, during a period (1954-56) when Bing was in exceptionally good voice." --Gary Giddins, Liner Notes

Limited Edition: 20,000 copies
7 CDs - $119.00

A Treasure Discovered!

Bing Crosby changed singing forever. He was fortunate to introduce his artistry to singing as one element of a perfect storm that included significant advancements in microphone and recording technology. Singers could perform more intimately, more conversationally, with greater latitude for the singer to incorporate subtle nuances.

He became the world's first “king of all media" (when “all" meant recordings, radio and movies) and the vast popularity of his records rivals those by Elvis and the Beatles.

Radio Masters - Never Before On Record

Yet, despite reissue after reissue, and numerous greatest hits compilations, one entire treasure trove of his musical output has remained almost completely forgotten, until now. The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings 1954-56 presents, for the first time complete, 160 masters recorded with Buddy Cole for Bing's daily CBS radio show from 1954 to 1956. Aside from 16 tracks that found their way onto LP, the vast majority of the tracks have been locked in Crosby's vault for more than 50 years.

An added bonus is that, relieved of the need to create music that could lead to identifiable hit records, Bing could select any song he chose to sing. After all, it was “just for the radio." The result is that the collection is a virtual catalog of the Great American Songbook, featuring numbers from Broadway, film, Tin Pan Alley, the blues, and well-known jazz standards.

Loose and Hip

For listeners more familiar with Bing the pop artist, these are not lush, orchestrated easy-listening affairs. Stripped down to a jazz quartet, these songs sound loose and hip, more like the Bing that thrilled earlier Jazz Era fans who were blown away not only by his vocal abilities but also by his concept of the vocalist's role in interpreting music.

With big bands out of fashion, Bing's interest in recording in front of a small combo helped these songs achieve a more modern feel, with swinging interplay between singer and band more evident than on many of his commercial recordings. There may be no better way to appreciate how many components of singing he controlled--his breathing, how he created resonance, how he could switch from hitting hard to whispering, his command of slurring and enunciation, and his hip approach to comedy and novelty.

Crosby himself reigned supreme for more than half a century. By the time of these performances, he held enough power that he could demand the opportunity to record his 15-minute radio show, even though the networks and sponsors would have preferred a live broadcast. The joke was that Bing could record twenty shows in a week and spend the rest of the month on the golf course, but by pre-recording the show he and Buddy Cole had the opportunity to perfect the recordings in the studio. Their process was to lay down a number of tracks quickly - sometimes four, six, or as many as 20, keeping them loose, relaxed, jazz-inflected and spontaneous.

For his part, Buddy Cole, who shared Bing's interest in working with new technology, contributed arrangements that are a big part of why this collection will communicate with jazz listeners. His partners on these dates were Vince Terri on guitar, Don Whitacker on bass, and Nick Fatool on drums, and they were adept at every style Bing wanted to conquer. Most of these songs were not otherwise recorded by Crosby. They include “The Lady is a Tramp," “I Got Rhythm," “'S Wonderful," “I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," “My Baby Just Cares For Me," and too many others to mention.

For Mosaic's release, the recordings have been meticulously restored from the original tape sources. Our deluxe box set includes an exclusive booklet, with a new essay and track-by-track appreciation by Gary Giddins, many photos form Bing's career, and all that swinging music.

From Your Friends At Mosaic Records

I've always appreciated Bing Crosby. I appreciate how he revolutionized pop singing. Without Crosby, there'd be no Sinatra, Eckstine or Bennett. I appreciate his relaxed, pitch-perfect style and enjoy his jazz-oriented albums like “Bing With A Beat" and “Bing & Satchmo."

So when Robert S. Bader of Bing Crosby Enterprises came by Mosaic one day with the idea that Mosaic would be the perfect vehicle to release a mountain of previously unreleased studio recordings by Bing with Buddy Cole & His Trio made for Crosby's 1954-56 CBS radio program, I was very interested. The idea of tapping into uncompromising material without commercial trappings by great singers who've experienced great success has always intrigued me. It led me to explore and release Capitol transcription sessions by Nat Cole, June Christy and Peggy Lee.

To me, Bing Crosby recording great songs he'd never recorded by the likes of Cole Porter, Fats Waller and the Gershwins with just a quartet backing was too enticing to ignore.

But I was unprepared for what I experienced a week later when Bader sent me CDRs of all the material to review and choose from. I took them home on a Friday night. The following morning, I popped in the first CD. It started with fare in keeping with Crosby's pop success like Irving Berlin's Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep" but I was drawn into the real genius of Crosby - his immaculate pitch and his relaxed but deliberate phrasing with the lyric. Clearly, this man didn't take his gift lightly; he worked at his art. Before long, he was digging into jazz favorites like “I Want To Be Happy" and “Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now" and I was hooked, mesmerized by his artistry and command.

After a massive dose of Bing Crosby, I got it! My appreciation turned to awe.

Michael Cuscuna

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