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Mike Barone Big Band: Flight of the Bumblebee (2009)

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Mike Barone Big Band: Flight of the Bumblebee How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

For a quarter-century, Mike Barone provided arrangements for Doc Severinsen
Doc Severinsen
Doc Severinsen
b.1927
trumpet
's NBC-TV Tonight Show Band
Tonight Show Band
b.1954
band/orchestra
, but these were seldom heard by anyone except the studio audiences for the actual telecasts (although excerpts were audible to viewers as intros and exits from commercial breaks). Since the band's dissolution more than fifteen years ago, however, Barone has been recording many of these charts with his own Los Angeles-based ensemble, and Flight of the Bumblebee is just the latest in this string of CDs for Barone's own Rhubarb Recordings label, captured in live performance last April.

On the title track, Barone gives the Rimsky-Korsakov classic a Spanish-tinged spin while paying tribute to several earlier treatments: the 1940's swing versions by Harry James
Harry James
Harry James
b.1916
trumpet
and Freddy Martin (which featured the boogie-woogie piano of Jack Fina), plus Billy May
Billy May
Billy May
1916 - 2004
composer/conductor
's 1960's adaptation as the theme for the ABC-TV series The Green Hornet (spotlighting the trumpet artistry of Al Hirt
Al Hirt
Al Hirt
1922 - 1999
trumpet
). Pianist Andy Langham inherits Fina's solo spot, minus the boogie-woogie.

The late Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
1922 - 2008
trumpet
serves as inspiration for "Easy Does It" (originally titled "Lightly") and "Slow Walkin,'" with the band in a very smooth Basie-esque groove. Veteran LA trumpeter Bob Summers handles the solo honors on the "Li'l Darlin'"-inflected "Easy Does It," while altoist Tom Luer dittoes on the "Girl Talk"-flavored "Slow Walkin.'"

"Lobbers No More" is based on the arrangements of "Just Friends" (whose harmonic changes are utilized) by both Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman
b.1927
sax, tenor
and Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
1935 - 2010
trombone
, as the solo spotlight is once again shared by Langham, Summers, and Luer. Fluidity of rhythmic changes characterizes "Exceptionally Moist" and the nearly century-old "Put Your Arms around Me, Honey." "Limes Away" is a Holman-esque romp based on the chord pattern of another ancient chestnut, "Limehouse Blues," while "Sprung Time" brings baritone saxophonist Brian Williams into the spotlight. The closer, "Avalon," presents a tenor sax duel between Kevin Garren and Vince Trombetta (one of two Philadelphians on the band; the other is co-lead trumpeter Tony Bonsera, a Manhattan School of Music alumnus who previously served in Philly's Brian Pastor
Brian Pastor
Brian Pastor

trombone
Big Band), Bob Leatherbarrow's drums, and shouting by the full ensemble.


Track Listing: Flight of the Bumblebee; Easy Does It; Exceptionally Moist; Trottin'; The Other Half; Lobbers No More; Put Your Arms around Me, Honey; Limes Away; Slow Walkin'; Minus Five; Sprung Time; Avalon.

Personnel: Mike Barone: Leader, composer, arranger, trombone; Tony Bonsera: trumpet; Pete DeSiena: trumpet; Adolfo Acosta: trumpet; Mark Lewis: trumpet; Bob Summers: trumpet: Charlie Loper, trombone; Dick Hamilton: trombone; Dave Ryan: trombone; George Thatcher: bass trombone; Tom Luer: alto sax, woodwinds; Keith Bishop: alto sax, woodwinds; Kevin Garren: tenor sax, woodwinds; Vince Trombetta: tenor sax, woodwinds; Brian Williams: baritone sax, woodwinds; Andy Langham: piano; David Tranchina: bass; Bob Leatherbarrow: drums.

Record Label: Rhubarb Recordings


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