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Recorded at two separate performances in 1997 at FitzGerald's Night Club and originally released in March of 1998, the Chicago Lakeside Jazz label has now reissued the two concerts by the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra under the leadership of Lenny King. Guesting is former Stan Kenton trumpet player Dennis Noday whose high atmosphere pyrotechnics are featured on "Blue", "Maria" and "MacArthur Park". Noday played that screeching high register trumpet part with Kenton like Ray Wetzel and Maynard Ferguson did in other incarnations of the Kenton aggregation. But Noday is not one dimensional as his horn shows traces of Harry James' romanticism on some of the ballad material. The excellent expressive tenor sax of Mark Colby carries the day on "Yesterdays" despite the efforts of a very heavy trumpet/trombone section seemingly trying to drown him out. On Don Rader's "Greasy Sack Blues" Terry Connell shows that Noday is by no means the only kid on the block handy with the valved horn. Verifying that leader Lenny King finds his inspiration in Kenton's various big bands, he includes Dee Barton's haunting arrangement of "Here's That Rainy Day" from the 1970 recording, Live at the Redlands University. While specializing in presenting the music of Kenton top arrangers like Bill Holman, Gene Roland and Lennie Niehaus, the orchestrations of those writers not as renown and are represented as well like Frank Mantooth and Gordon Brisker. Mantooth's orchestral version of" Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most" is especially memorable mainly due to the trombone of Hary Kozlowski. This is one of the tracks where there is no screamin' and kickin', but a lovely ballad played in a respectful soft and gentle style.
All in all this session is almost 70 minutes of music played by 20 talented (not all on the stand at once) musicians happily enthusiastic about what they're doing before an audience happily enthusiastic with what they're hearing. Recommended.
Track Listing: Magic Flea; A Time for Love; What's New; Maria; I Remember Stan; Fitz; Yesterdays; El Congo Valiente; Blue; Greasy Sack Blue; But Beautiful; Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most; Here's That Rainy Day; MacArthur Park
Personnel: Lenny King - Leader; Dennis Noday, Joey Tartell, Kirk Garrison, Terry Connell, Jim Peterson, Tom Baker, Amir Elsaffar, Randy Kulik - Trumpet; John Mose, Hary Kozlowski, Tim Coffman, Tom Stark - Trombone; John McAllister - Bass Trombone, Tuba; Chris Sarlas, Jon Irabagon - Alto Sax; Kent Lawson - Alto & Baritone Sax; Mark Colby, Frank Catalano, Tenor Sax; Ken Kistner - Baritone Sax; Don Stille, Ron Mills - Piano; David Rothstein - Bass; Charlie Braugham, Bob Chmel- Drums; Al Keeler -Latin percussion