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Drum Crazy

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Gene Krupa 3/27/2001

Review

Although born in Chicago in 1909, Gene Krupa was descended from Russians and Poles -- the word "krupa" in Russian means "groats." After narrowly avoiding a career in the Catholic priesthood, young Krupa developed instead into a rowdy jazz drummer and by 1927 was making records with Ben Pollack, the Bucktown Five, and a band called the Chicagoans led by a hard-boiled little banjoist by the name of Eddie Condon. Krupa also played a crucial role in the popular success of Benny Goodman's orchestra from 1935 to 1938. Living Era's 2001 compilation Drum Crazy is a sampler of recordings released under Krupa's name between 1936 and 1950. Unlike most Living Era reissue packages, this one is laid out in concise chronological order. At the outset, "Swing Is Here" is performed by Gene Krupa's All-Star Swing Band with Goodman, Roy Eldridge, and Chu Berry in front. The logical next step after this stimulating opener is the Benny Goodman Orchestra's bombastic Carnegie Hall concert recording of "Sing, Sing, Sing." The progress of Krupa's own big band is traced from the "Wire Brush Stomp" of 1938 through "Drummin' Man" (a 1939 ripoff of Earl Hines' "Piano Man") and a languid cover of Erskine Hawkins' big hit record of 1940, "Tuxedo Junction." Wading into the 1940s, Krupa took on his first truly substantial vocalist, Anita O'Day, sometimes teaming her up with trumpet ace and rambunctious singer Roy "Little Jazz" Eldridge. Their famous duet performance of "Let Me Off Uptown" is definitive. Next the chronology leaps from 1941 to 1945, the most noteworthy additions to the band being saxophonists Charlie Ventura and Johnny Bothwell. After a particularly fine trio recording of "Dark Eyes" by Krupa, Ventura, and Teddy Napoleon, the big band is shown to have been rigorously up to date, graduating from swing and boogie-woogie to bop-derived showcases like "Opus One," "How High the Moon," "Disc Jockey Jump," and "Calling Dr. Gillespie." For some reason, this relatively solid compilation closes with the unsavory "Bonaparte's Retreat," a peculiar cornball novelty tune combining traditional jazz and hillbilly country as Wild Bill Davison, Cutty Cutshall, Peanuts Hucko, and an old-fashioned rhythm section back vocalist Bobby Scoots, who seems to have been attempting an impersonation of Tennessee Ernie Ford. ~ arwulf arwulf
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Swing Is Here Gene Krupa 2:56
  3. 2 Sing, Sing, Sing Gene Krupa 12:13
  4. 3 Wire Bush Stomp Gene Krupa 2:11
  5. 4 Apurksody Gene Krupa 2:55
  6. 5 Drummin' Man Gene Krupa 3:1
  7. 6 Tuxedo Junction Gene Krupa 2:58
  8. 7 High on a Windy Hill Gene Krupa 2:59
  9. 8 It All Comes Back to Me Now Gene Krupa 3:9
  10. 9 Drum Boogie Gene Krupa 3:8
  11. 10 Just a Little Bit South of North Carolina Gene Krupa 2:39
  12. 11 Let Me Off Uptown Gene Krupa 3:1
  13. 12 Rockin' Chair Gene Krupa 2:59
  14. 13 Bolero at the Savoy Gene Krupa 2:52
  15. 14 Leave Us Leap Gene Krupa 3:3
  16. 15 Dark Eyes Gene Krupa 3:28
  17. 16 Opus One Gene Krupa 2:57
  18. 17 Boogie Blues Gene Krupa 3:19
  19. 18 Lover Gene Krupa 2:48
  20. 19 How High the Moon Gene Krupa 3:18
  21. 20 Disc Jockey Jump Gene Krupa 3:9
  22. 21 Calling Dr. Gillespie Gene Krupa 3:19
  23. 22 Bonaparte's Retreat Gene Krupa 3:9

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