How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Da Blues have seldom been as high–spirited or upbeat as they are on this breezy collection of blues–based compositions (six) and arrangements by Andy Clark performed by the largely anonymous but notably accomplished Studio “A” Big Band. Of the half–dozen compositions that aren’t his (and another that isn’t quite), Clark hasn’t gone for the obvious (except for W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues”), choosing instead Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago,” Aretha Franklin/Ted White’s “Think,” two traditional songs with spiritual themes, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “This Little Light of Mine,” and “Big Mama Cass,” written by Don Sebesky for the Buddy Rich band of the late ’60s. While Clark is credited as the composer of “Alexander’s Rock & Roll Band,” it’s actually Irving Berlin’s “Ragtime Band” set to a rock beat, which hardly qualifies as a “new” composition. Even when writing about something as somber as the blues, Clark’s inbred cheerfulness is undampened, and any sorrowful moments on this session are extremely hard to uncover. Tempos are medium to up, and Clark’s bustling charts clearly accentuate the positive with dynamic passages for brass and reeds creating an over–all impression of enthusiasm and happiness. “Kissin’ Cousins” comes out swinging in a Woody Herman vein, as does “All the Blues That’s Fit to Print.” The gospel–oriented title selection is followed by the funky “Dirty Dozen,” after which the trombone section assumes command on “This Little Light” and Clark’s “Please Don’t Shoot the Trombone Players!” The ensemble marches smartly down “12th Street and Vine” (whose architecture includes hints of everything from “Elmer’s Tune” to “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”) before wrapping things up with “Alexander’s Rock & Roll Band.” If you fancy blues with a smiley face, this happy–go–lucky session may satisfy your every desire.
Track listing: Kissin’ Cousins; St. Louis Blues; All the Blues That’s Fit to Print; Think; Sweet Home Chicago; Go Tell It on the Mountain; Da Blues Done Gotcha Again!; Dirty Dozen; Big Mama Cass; This Little Light of Mine; Please Don’t Shoot the Trombone Players!; 12th Street & Vine; Alexander’s Rock & Roll Band (51:48).
Ed Petersen, leader; Andy Clark, arranger; other personnel unlisted.