Adapter: Jimmy Kennedy.
Personnel: Sam Browne (vocals, spoken vocals); Jack Cooper (vocals, guitar); Anne Shelton, Connee Boswell, Denny Dennis, Ella Logan, Elsie Carlisle, Lou Abelardo, Eddie Grossbart, Anona Winn, Rhythm Sisters, Vera Lynn (vocals); Joe Brannelly (guitar, banjo); George Elliott, Ivor Mairants, Albert Harris (guitar); Reginald Pursglove, Eric Siday, Eddie Lewis, Ernie Lewis, Norman Cole, Peter Rush, Jean Pougnet (violin); Jos Jeannette (flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Joe Crossman (clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Billy Amstell (clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Perley Breed, Sid Phillips, Danny Polo (clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Andy McDevitt, Arthur Lally, Jack Shields, Doug Robinson, Jack Miranda (clarinet, alto saxophone); John O. Arslanian (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Harry Hines, Harry Hayes, Bill Apps, Carl Barriteau (alto saxophone); Benny Greenwood, Aubrey Franks (tenor saxophone); Chick Smith, Max Goldberg, Alfie Noakes, Harry Owen, Jimmy Lonie, Dennis Ratcliffe, Dave Wilkins, Stanley Roderick, Tim Casey, Leslie Berkin, Clinton Ffrench, Archie Craig, Tommy McQuater, Sylvester Ahola, Teddy Foster (trumpet); Jock Bain, Don Macaffer, George Chisholm, Jack Bentley, Les Carew, Erice Breeze, Lew Davis, Ted Heath (trombone); Bert Read, Bert Barnes, Stanley Black (piano); Max Bacon (vibraphone, xylophone, drums); James Blades (xylophone, timbales); Dick Ball, Tiny Winters, Dick Escott (double bass); George Fierstone, Jock Cummings (drums).
Audio Remasterers: Doug Shearer; Martin Haskell.
Recording information: Chelsea, London, England (04/02/1928-05/09/1944); Hayes, Middlesex, England (04/02/1928-05/09/1944); Kingsway Hall, London, England (04/02/1928-05/09/1944); Small Queen's Hall, London, England (04/02/1928-05/09/1944).
Introduction by: Sam Browne.
Arrangers: Bert Read; Bert Barnes; Lew Stone; Ronnie Munro; Sid Phillips.
Bert Ambrose led an excellent British big band during the heyday of hot jazz and swing. Closely modeled on popular North American dance bands (Jean Goldkette, Ben Pollack, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Charlie Barnet), Ambrose's ensemble also strove to emulate the best in authentic Afro-American jazz, sounding at times like the orchestras of Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, or Claude Hopkins. Affiliated with various hotels, the Ambrose orchestra naturally specialized in suave, sophisticated arrangements, sometimes employing a sweet-to-hot violin trio. Sam Browne was usually the featured vocalist, with periodic guest appearances by Ella Logan, Eddie Grossbart, Lou Abelardo, Ella Carlisle, Connee Boswell, Jack Cooper, Denny Dennis, Vera Lynn, Anne Shelton, and a trio billed as the Rhythm Sisters. Most of the sides cut for HMV between 1928 and 1932 had singers attached. There was a brief dalliance with Brunswick and then from 1934 onward, Ambrose worked almost exclusively for Decca. This Living Era double disc is quite possibly the best overall Ambrose compilation currently available. That's because while the selections are laid out in only roughly chronological order, instrumentals have been systematically interspersed throughout the program so that the listener is never exposed to more than two consecutive vocal selections. Careful perusal of the wonderfully detailed discography reveals that 19 out of 49 tracks are instrumentals. All but one of these originally appeared on Decca, which explains why certain other Ambrose compilations, dwelling exclusively upon HMV releases, contain hardly any instrumentals whatsoever. A survey of the instrumentals included in this package is most rewarding. Most of those recorded between 1935 and 1937 feature tunes written by the band's imaginative clarinetist and baritone saxophonist, Sid Phillips. Pianist Bert Barnes composed the snappy "Embassy Stomp," which was recorded in January of 1935. Ambrose's choice of vocal material ranged from the sentimental to novelties and romantic love songs to the positively na‹ve, as epitomized by "The Sun Has Got His Hat On (Hip, Hip Hooray)." Perhaps the strangest footnote to all of this is the fate of "Blue Skies Are Round the Corner," a song that ended up being parodied by Charlie & His Orchestra for the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. Retitled "Grey Skies Are Round the Corner" with the lyrics altered to include the phrase "everything's gonna go wrong," that recording was aired over shortwave radio with the express intention of lowering morale among the British and Allied armed forces during the Second World War. It's worth noting that whoever wrote the arrangements for all those Nazified big-band records carefully imitated the distinctive sound of Ambrose and his orchestra as broadcast by the BBC. ~ arwulf arwulf