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Mosaic To Release Bing Crosby Set

Dreaming Of A Crosby Christmas

According to Scott Wenzel at Mosaic Records, "A Bing Crosby box set is due for the holidays." The contents? "7 discs of mostly never released radio material from the 50s done with the Buddy Cole Trio." Drawn from Crosby's mid-1950s CBS radio show, the music features Der Bingle in numerous Great American Songbook settings. The text in the accompanying booklet is by Gary Giddins, the Crosby biographer who's also at work on the long-awaited sequel to the 2001 book A Pocketful of Dreams. (That book covered the singer's life from 1903 to 1940, breaking off on the verge of World War II, when Crosby rose from the already-lofty heights of stardom to become an enduring American icon. Its second volume is tentatively slated to appear in autumn 2012.)

For those who've lately been concerned of Mosaic's state, this is good news. With some of the label's in-print sets currently on back-order, and last week's news that, (due to a major licensor changing pressing plants that led to an abrupt, wholesale deletion of some titles) a number of other collections were suddenly no longer available, some customers had expressed anxiety about the company's future.

While acknowledging that Mosaic is weathering the same difficult economic climate as everyone else, Wenzel offers reassurance that "We are continuing and have plans for sets next year." We still have no word on a possible release date for either an Ahmad Jamal trio or 1930s Duke Ellington big-band set, both of which have been on Mosaic's to-do list for the past couple of years, but in the meantime, Artie Shaw is shipping soon.

For More Bing Crosby...

Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong revolutionized the art of singing and changed the course of American music forever. Of course, they did it with recordings like "Just One More Chance" and "Heebie Jeebies" rather than "White Christmas" and "Hello Dolly."

Recently, the Bing Crosby estate has begun cataloguing and restoring music recorded for Crosby's various radio programs. The 160 songs in this Mosaic collection were recorded with the Buddy Cole Quartet between 1954 and 1956 for Bing's CBS show are absolutely revelatory. Crosby's early jazz roots informed his influential career as a pop singer. To our knowledge, these are the only recorded performances of Crosby singing the Great American Songbook in an informal atmosphere with a consummate small jazz ensemble. Without the pressure of phonograph recording sessions which by definition are always in search of hits, these recordings put Crosby's artistry in bold relief and redefine the depths of his art.

Only 16 of these performances were commercially released over three Decca albums. The personnel (Buddy Cole on keyboards, Vince Terri on guitar, Don Whitaker on bass and Nick Fatool on drums and percussion) is consistent throughout. The repertoire includes plenty of Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Fats Waller. One 13-song session adds clarinetist Matty Matlock, tenor saxophonist Fred Falensby, trumpeter Clyde Hurley and trombonist Abe Lincoln and finds Bing exploring his roots on tunes like "Muskrat Ramble", "That's A-Plenty" and "At The Jazz Band Ball."

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