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Jim Porcella: Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphires-Not Just Visiting

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P>Taking advantage of the renewed interest in the genre, this jazzy group romps through a program of some of the best of the big bands, mostly from the 1930's and 1940's, but which still get plenty of play to this day. The one exception is the kick off tune, "Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphire Blues," which serves as a preview of what's to follow. And what follows is some fine toe-tapping, finger snapping, let's get up and dance swing music. This swinging group is made up of nine of Boston's top musicians, five of whom are professors at Berklee College of Music, with Jim Porcella (Bombay Jim himself) as the leader and vocalist and all of them have a good time with this music.

The group makes no attempt to replicate arrangements which made the tunes on the play list famous. But there is enough of the original arrangement to remind everyone from whence the tune came. On "Caldonia" we hear some of the licks from the Woody Herman Band as they played this and the two other great tunes from that 1945 aggregation, "Apple Honey" and "Northwest Passage.""Well Git It" relives memories of Sy Oliver's arrangement of this barn burner for Tommy Dorsey, kicking it off with Gary Johnson's drums, followed by call from Jeff Stout's Ziggy Elmanesque trumpet, with a response from the entire band. "Entire band!" One has to keep referring to the liner notes to be reminded that there are only eight people here, not the 15 or 16 found in the big bands of the 40's. Like John Kirby's group of the 1940's, they play much bigger than they actually are. With Jim Porcella doing the Tex Beneke vocal, "Don't Sit under the Apple Tree" is played at a blistering 232 beats per minute pace, faster than the Miller version. As for the slower side, and there's not too much of that on this disc. One slow temp tune is Porcella's rendition of Neal Hefti's "Girl Talk" is reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald's with ace guitarist Jon Wheatley taking the Joe Pass role. Porcella is an entertaining vocalist with outstanding timing and rhythm as well as a sense of humor. On "Just a Gigolo," he inserts a couple of choruses of "I Ain't Got Nobody" making this track one of the best on a very good album.

The album sports a feature I've never seen before. There's a "beats per minute" measure for each tune. The BPM, the RPM of musical rhythm, runs from a sizzling 236 for "Air Mail Special" to a lazy, coasting 69 for "Girl Talk." The Swinging Sapphires performs regularly Boston area and the denizens of bean town are fortunate to have them. An unabashed exaltation of the wonderful music called swing, <|>Not Just Waiting is recommended.

TracksBombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphire Blues; Caldonia; Come On with the "Come On"; Knock Me a Kiss; Well, Git It; Just a Gigolo;Sway;Undecided;Minnie the Moocher; Don't Sit under the Apple Tree; Let the Good Times Roll; Girl Talk; I Want You to Be My Baby;Goody-Goody; You Stepped out of a Dream; Air Mail SpecialPersonnelJim Porcella - Vocals; Dick Lowell - Lead Trumpet; Jeff Stout - Jazz Trumpet; Arnie Krakowsky- Tenor Sax; Jeff Galindo -Trombone; Tom LaMark - Piano; Jon Wheatley -Guitar; Mark Carlsen - Bass;Gary Johnson-Drums

Record Label: Songkeepers

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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