P>There has been much ado about the great swing revival pioneered by such retro swingers as Brian Setzer and The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies with many other groups jumping on the band wagon. In Florida, there has been no swing revival because with the large number of retirees who have moved there, swing has never gone anywhere. With outfits like Dennis Noday's Big Band and now Dan McMillion's Big Band that's featured on this album, Floridians get the real thing. No synthetic stuff here. This album recalls the tunes which the big bands made big hits. There's also three originals by George W. Carroll, who is responsible for many of the arrangements, produced the session and founded the label. Oh, yes, he also sings on each track in the tradition and style of Frank Sinatra (naturally), Mel Torme and Tony Bennett. The album features a good balance between ballads and up tempo numbers. McMillion's big band is made up of some very good musicians from the Tampa Bay area. McMillion plays admirable trumpet and flugelhorn and his muted trumpet noodles behind Carroll's vocal on "Someone to Watch Over Me", recalling Harry "Sweets" Edison backing of Frank Sinatra on some of Old Blue Eyes' albums. Other good instrumental solos include Kim Bock's tenor on "Angel Eyes" and Roger DeLillo's trombone on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams." An album highlight is the rendition of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" which is closer to the Bobby Darin/Billy May arrangement than the acclaimed Ray Eberle 1941 recording with Glenn Miller.
Carroll's originals, which he wrote with Kathi Warren, make up the last three tracks with superior bop alto saxophonist Greg Abate handling the bulk of the solos with his usual aplomb. "Till I Found You", done by the small group, with its bop leanings seems somewhat out of place given the swing orientation of the session. But Carroll's other two compositions swing and get listener attention with their up beat rhythms. Noted band leader Frank Mantooth, arranged "Life Is Good." These tracks certify that Mr. Carroll is a composer of some note. Life Is Good goes a long way in keeping the excitement of big band swing alive and is recommended.
Tracks:Almost Like Being in Love; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; Angel Eyes; A Foggy Day; Night and Day; Fly Me to the Moon; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; Come Rain or Come Shine; Georgia on My Mind; Alone Togther; Someone to Watch over Me; Till I Found You; Millennium; Life Is Good
Personnel: Small Group-George W. Carroll - Vocal, Arranger;Greg Abate - Alto Sax; Richard Drexler - Piano, Bass; LaRue Nickelson - Guitar; John Moore - Drums:Big Band- Dan McMillion - Leader, Flugelhorn, Trumpet; John Robinson, Andy Reese, John Lombard, Brad Turner - Trumpet; Roger Delillo, Chris Price, Dave Hook, Jim Hall - Trombone; Jeff Hall, Dave Eckman - Alto Sax; Kim Bock, Mark Gould - Tenor Saxophone; Butch Evans - Baritone Saxophone; John Slate - Piano; Joe Porter - Bass; Ralph Cornwell - Drums