From the Record Shelves #100

What Is This Thing Called Love?

LP RCA Vintage Series LPV-565

This is a record in the RCA Vintage series which means good sound and a good compilation. I bought it in the autumn of 1969 when I started my studies in English at the university, and it gave a good atmosphere to that period.

Leo Reisman’s Orchestra came out of Boston and rose to national fame in the end of the 1920s. The record contains a varied mixture of songs from 1929 until 1937 when much of the orchestras sound had changed. About half of the tunes have become standards in the American Song Book and it’s nice to hear early versions with singers like Fred Astaire and Lee Wiley.

Reisman was probably the first of the dance band leaders to feature Afro-American musicians to give a spice to the music. In 1928, he had featured trumpet player Johnny Dunn in a production, and even if it’s hard to choose a tune from the present LP I cannot pass over this one from 1930 where it is former Duke Ellington trumpeter Bubber Miley that gives it the jazz content. It is a great version of a very good Cole Porter song where the question expressed in the lyrics fits so well with a somewhat mysterious melody. The orchestra has a light rhythm, makes good use of dynamics and the vocal by Lewis Conrad fits well in the overall mood of the piece. Note that Adrian Rollini with his bass sax is also present.