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Although studio dates are fine, there’s nothing that can match the energy and excitement of a big band performing in front of an audience — the kind of energy and excitement generated by drummer Jack Ranelli’s high–spirited ensemble Live at Chadney’s, wherein the enthusiastic onlookers make their presence felt (and heard) throughout the lively hour–long concert. Yes, the fidelity isn’t as “hi” as in a studio, but the band more than makes up for that shortcoming with an abundance of earnest emotion and no–holds–barred swinging. Ranelli, who has played with the Woody Herman Herd, among others, is a high–powered drummer whose busy snares and cymbals — complemented by Lou Schoch’s metronomic electric bass — keep everyone on their toes and in the pocket. Brass and reeds respond with ardent if not always letter–perfect blowing (if you prefer flawless, try the New York Philharmonic), while the soloists seem equally inspired by their hard–working comrades and the appreciative audience. The upshot is a concert that fairly bubbles over with an unquenchable spirit, reminding this listener from time to time of another memorable in–the–flesh album, The Mike Barone Big Band Live at Donte’s, 1968. Ranelli’s band shines brightest on a number of original compositions including three by chief arranger Rick Hils (“Silk Stockings,” “Instant Arrangement,” “‘Artie’ of the Big Band”), Leslie Drayton’s “Rush Hour Traffic” and Don Grolnick’s “Nothing Personal.” — a radiance that is only slightly less apparent on “Save Your Love for Me” (featuring trombonist Jack Redmond), Cannonball Adderley’s “Things Are Getting Better,” Duke Pearson’s “Jeannine,” Gil Evans’ “Maids of Cadiz” and the standards “Broadway,” “There Is No Greater Love” and “Speak Low.” While the “live” sound and sometimes less–than–perfect balance among sections (not to mention the unbridled audience response) leave no doubt that this is a concert, it’s a very good one indeed — and once the “admission price” is paid you can applaud Live at Chadney’s as loudly and as often as you wish with never a cover charge or minimum.
Track Listing: Silk Stockings; Things Are Getting Better; Broadway; Save Your Love for Me; Jeannine; There Is No Greater Love; Maids of Cadiz; Instant Arrangement; Speak Low;
Personnel: Jack Ranelli, leader, drums; Jack Laubach, Jeff Kaye, Jack Feierman, Ralph Osborn, trumpet; John Yoakum, alto, soprano sax; Ray Reed, alto sax; George Harper, Larry Covelli, tenor sax; Greg Smith, baritone sax; Jack Redmond, Dan Weinstein, trombone; Bob Enevoldsen, valve trombone; Dave Ryan, bass trombone; Rick Olson, piano; Lou Shoch, electric bass.