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If the name Craig Raymond sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because he’s the son of longtime Philadelphia bandleader Al Raymond, who recently retired and handed the reins to his trumpet-playing offspring (hence the name “Next Generation Band”). Stylistically, the band remains roughly the same, about equal parts jazz and dance music, but the younger Raymond keeps everyone sharply focused and the ensemble swings with abandon on “Night Train,” chief arranger Grant Whisler’s “Orbit,” John Philip Sousa’s martial flag-waver “Stars and Stripes Forever,” Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low” and (behind vocalist Bobby Burnett) a fast-paced version of Alan Brandt’s “That’s All.” Alto saxophonist Larry McKenna is showcased on Russel Faith’s “Theme for Jacqualine,” lead trombonist Chuck Dressler (and the section) on Victor Young’s “Stella by Starlight,” trumpeter Tony DeSantis on Johnny Burke / Jimmy Van Heusen’s “But Beautiful.”
Pianist Pete Jackson (who, sadly, died shortly after the session was held) is bright and entertaining on “Bubbles,” an updated version of the old favorite “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” There’s one other vocal, by Barbara Noel on a second Victor Young composition, “When I Fall in Love.” Two medleys complete the program, “Themes” (on which Al Raymond introduces seven memorable signature songs by other bands) and “Jingle Ballads” (three seasonal favorites taken at a leisurely pace). We’re sorry to see that Father Time has obliged the elder Raymond to step aside, but based on the evidence presented here, the future (of his band, at least) seems to rest in extremely capable hands. In other words, Craig Raymond is a chip off the old block and the New Generation Big Band should be swinging in his dad’s footsteps for years to come.
Track Listing: Night Train; Stella by Starlight; Bubbles; When I Fall in Love; Orbit; Theme
for Jacqualine; That
Personnel: Craig Raymond, leader, trumpet; Don Downs, Kevin Rodgers, Bill Posey,
Tony DeSantis, Rick Gazda, trumpet, flugelhorn; Chuck Dressler, Brian
Pastor, Mike Galan, trombone; Mike Purdy, Jose Vidal, bass trombone;
Jeff Darrohn, Andrew Neu, alto sax; Rob Haffley, Bob Apgar, Larry
McKenna, alto, tenor sax solos; Mike Brignola, baritone sax; Pete Jackson,
piano; Kevin MacConnell, bass; Tony Vigilante, drums; Barbara Noel,
Bobby Burnett, vocals.