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Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, Harry James, Woody Herman, Bunny Berigan, Tommy Dorsey and Stan Kenton: the list sounds like the honour roll of big band leaders in the 30s and 40s. But it's just a selection of the bands for which tenor sax man Vido Musso played during his twenty year plus recording career. Born in Sicily, Vido moved to the US when his family emigrated in 1920. After a spell in Detroit, the sax man, intent on a musical future, headed to the West Coast to in the early 30s and started to play with local bands. Vido's first breakthrough came with the chance to join the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1936. His time with the Goodman Orchestra included the famous recording of Sing, Sing, Sing. It was a tune he was to return to when Vido recorded with a smaller swing group in the early to mid 50s for Modern Records. In the period 1937 to the end of the second world war Vido performed and recorded prolifically with the big bands mentioned above. The immediate post-war period saw him start a distinguished association with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. With them he recorded the hit versions of Intermission Riff and Come Back To Sorrento in his distinctive style. These favourites remained in his repertoire and were to feature on the albums he recorded for Modern and Crown Records in the early to mid-50s.
THE SWINGIN'ST collects together most of his recorded work at Modern. Playing with Maynard Ferguson on trumpet and Willard McDaniel on piano, his first releases were on the RPM label, followed with outings on the new Crown singles label. An album "The Swingin'st" followed, initially on the Modern label but then re-issued as one of the first Crown LPs. The album included some of the initial singles (sometimes cunningly re-titled) as well as other material. Graced with an avant garde graphical design, it remains a sought-after album with good copies going for more than $100. Vido followed up with a second Crown album in 1957, this time with a more R&B-oriented line-up including organ. Entitled "Teenage Dance Party", it included an spirited, extended version of Bill Doggett's Honky Tonk as well as his re-workings of the Kenton favourites Intermission Riff and Come Back To Sorrento.
This compilation includes the full content of both albums, plus three of the singles sides not featured on the album. There is more Vido material in the Modern vaults but there simply wasn't room for it on this compilation. The last two tracks are done in the furious style employed at the Gene Norman Just Jazz concerts Vido had been recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in 1947 along with Wardell Gray and Howard McGhee and attempted to re-create that feeling on these releases from 1953.
So from amongst the 227 recording sessions that Vido Musso is credited with in Tom Lord's Jazz Discography, here is the best of the Modern Records period of the man they called The Swingin'st.
by PETER GIBBON