JOHNNY SPARROW & His Bows and Arrows "Sparrow's Flight"

Johnny Sparrow's sides for the Gotham label, including six previously unreleased numbers and six previously unissued outtakes. "Sparrow's Flight" isn't here, although "Sparrow's Flight No. 2" is on hand. "Sparrow In the Barrel," which he'd originally cut for National and turned up as the B-side of his Gotham debut "When Your Lover Has Gone," features a strikingly dark solo from Sparrow. "Sparrow's Flight No. 2" soars effortlessly. "Boudoir Blues" shows Sparrow doing a distinctly '40s brand of jump blues, which comes off extremely well -- with superbly aggressive playing on his part -- but could hardly have been commercially appealing at the time. And "Serenade to Satchmo" is a loving tribute to Sparrow's ex-boss, with both flute and tenor sax solos.Not much is known about Johnny Sparrow's background, apart from the fact that he may have come from the South/Southwest, perhaps Texas, and that he first emerged in the reed section of Jay McShann's Orchestra, succeeding Charlie Parker during early 1944. He joined during the group's engagement at the Club Plantation in Los Angeles and played with them through the spring of that year. Unfortunately, the group didn't get to record during this period, and its work has survived best in the form of armed forces radio broadcasts. The band finally broke up in May of 1944 when McShann was drafted. He played with Louis Armstrong's band in 1946 and 1947, and got to record with the group as well. From Armstrong's band, Sparrow went to Lionel Hampton's ensemble, where he was often featured in competition with fellow saxman Morris Lane.
After two years with Hampton's group, Sparrow left in 1949 to form his own band, Johnny Sparrow & His Bows and Arrows. They recorded for a pair of small New York-based labels, Melford and National, of which the National sides were far more numerous and successful. Their biggest early success was "Sparrow's Flight," which charted in 1950. The group was based in Philadelphia beginning in 1951, with an extended engagement at that city's Club 421. During the spring of 1952, they were signed to the Philadelphia-based Gotham Records. At that time, the group consisted of Sparrow, Eugene Burrell, Thomas Moultrie, and Thomas Holloway. During its time at Gotham, the band's sound blossomed, with the addition of flute, trombone, and baritone sax, and still later a vibraphone alongside the basic quartet. By 1953, Sparrow's contract with Gotham was up, and apart from a couple of sessions the following year for RCA -- most of the songs from which were never released -- Johnny Sparrow faded into history. ~ Bruce Eder, Allmusic

01 Boudoir Boogie 02 When Your Lover Has Gone 03 Paradise Rock 04 What's New 05 Serenade To Satchmo 06 Always 07 Indiana 08 Jump Steady 09 Sparrow's Flight No. 2 10 Sparrow In The Barrel 11 I'll See You In My Dreams 12 Yesterdays 13 Am I Blue 14 What's New
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