2 great little albums from Les Brown – a real return to greatness at the end of the 50s! Jazz Song Book is a sublime set that's built strongly around solo contributions from players that include Buddy DeFranco, Terry Gibbs, Frank Rosolino, Zoot Sims, Don Fagerquist, and Ronnie Lang – all players who are quite comfortable in a large group setting, but really know how to make the most of their solo space when it comes around! Brown put the album together in a way that shifts the focus between soloists from track to track – and the different voicings really give each number a great sense of mood, even when the tunes themselves are familiar ones. Arrangements are by Bill Holman, and titles include "Pizza Boy", "The Claw", "Love Is Here To Stay", "Chelsea Bridge", "Willow Weep For Me", "King Phillip Stomp", and "Let's Get Away From It All". Swing Song Book offers up some great modern interpretations of jazz numbers from an earlier age – arranged tightly by Billy May, for a set of players that includes Dick Collins, Abe Most, Stumpy Brown, Billy Usselton, and Howard Roberts. The sound is strongly ensemble-based – with beautiful horn parts that are filled with deep tones, yet still manage to swing – a bit like Stan Kenton before he'd gone too modern at the start of the 50s. Titles include "Lean Baby", "Pick Yourself Up", "Early Autumn", "Moten Swing", "Take The A Train", and "I Want To Be Happy".
(Note: There seem to be a few very short moments in which the sound is slightly distored – but these are minor, possibly from the master tapes.)