"In the world of jazz, The Four Freshmen hold many distinctions. They were the first successful recording vocal jazz group to play their own instruments; they were the first four-part groupto sing sophisticated jazz arrangements, redefining vocal harmonies; they were among the first artists to use the long-playing album to express a consistent musical theme. Their legacy can be heard in practically every vocal group to come after them from the Hi-Lo's to the Beach Boys to the Manhattan Transfer". This opening paragraph lifted from the terrific liner notes included in the sensational 1991 release "The Four Freshmen: Capitol Collectors Series" seems to sum it all up quite nicely. The Four Freshmen truly were pioneers in the music business. Just sample the 21 tunes on this collection of their most popular recordings and you will see what I mean.
The original Four Freshmen were discovered by the great progressive jazz bandleader/pianist/composer Stan Kenton during a performance in Dayton, Ohio in 1950. Kenton was so impressed with what he heard that he quickly arranged for an audition with Capitol Records, the record label he himself recorded for. And the rest, as they say, is history. Over the next 16 years at Capitol the group would release more than two dozen albums and about the same number of singles. "The Four Freshmen: Capitol Collectors Series" offers up 21 of the group's most popular recordings. If you are someone who prefers luscious ballads you are sure to enjoy a number of tunes in this collection. I would recommend to you the group's first hit record "It's A Blue World" from 1952. And while you're at it I would encourage you to give a listen to "How Can I Tell Her", "In This Whole Wide World" and one of the groups most enduring recordings of all-time "Angel Eyes". For those of you who dig the more uptempo stuff give a listen to numbers like "Day By Day", "Candy" and one of my personal favorites "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66". What a fabulous tune! And of course no Four Freshmen collection would be complete without their biggest hit ever, 1956's "Graduation Day". Which ever way your personal tastes run you will most assuredly enjoy the intricate harmonies evident on each and every one of the songs in this collection.
A couple of years ago my wife and I attended a concert in our hometown by the current incarnation of The Four Freshmen. What an amazing show! In 2008, The Four Freshmen celebrated 60 years in the music business. I found the current line-up to be every bit as talented as the originals. Hearing the group "live" prompted me to go back and take another listen to this collection which I have owned for many years now. What I found was a disc that is 60 minutes of pure bliss! See if you agree. "The Four Freshmen: Capitol Collectors Series" comes with a remarkable 16 page booklet replete with a detailed biography of the original group, detailed information on each track and a wonderful centerfold picturing lots of Four Freshmen memorabilia including album covers, and some of the groups original 45's. Be advised that these are all the original Capitol recordings--no annoying re-recordings here. And the sound quality is superb. "The Four Freshmen: Capitol Collectors Series" belongs in any serious collection of American popular music. Very highly recommended!
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