In 1999, Collectors' Choice released Voices in Latin/The Freshman Year, which contained two complete albums – Voices in Latin (1958, originally released on Capitol) and The Freshman Year (1961, originally released on Capitol) – by the Four Freshmen on one compact disc.
The Four Freshmen were one of the top vocal groups of the 1950s, and formed the bridge between '40s ensembles like the Mel-Tones and harmony-based rock & roll bands such as the Beach Boys as well as groups like Spanky & Our Gang and the Manhattan Transfer. The group's roots go back to the end of the 1940s and a barbershop quartet-influenced outfit called Hal's Harmonizers, organized at the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Butler University in Indiana by two brothers, Ross and Don Barbour.
This delightful release, from the Indian Summer of Bernard Herrmann's recording career, always got neglected by its potential audiences, ignored by Herrmann's fans in favor of his recordings of his film music or his own classical compositions (or more conventionally familiar works such as The Planets) and missed totally by jazz listeners of a historical bent. The material contained herein is distinctly symphonic or – perhaps more accurately – concert hall jazz, the work of established composers coming to grips with and using the then-new music in their own idiom…
The material on CD 1 dates from the latter half of Artie Shaw’s career as a bandleader, which ended with his retirement in 1954. Always presenting tasteful and often unusually deep interpretations of big-band jazz and dance music, and featuring his exquisite and frequently profound clarinet improvisations, Shaw’s career climaxed in his rise to superstar status as the most popular musician in North America at the height of the Swing Era in 1939.