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Nancie Banks Orchestra: Out of It (2006)

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Nancie Banks Orchestra: Out of It Out of It, recorded in January 2001, is the fourth—and I'm unhappy to report, the last—album by the New York-based Nancie Banks Orchestra. Banks died less than two years later, in November '02, at the too-young age of fifty-one. Her husband, trombonist Clarence Banks, is in the section on this album, as he was on the previous three. Ironically, Out of It is dedicated to the memory of several friends who had passed on, including saxophonist Harold Vick, who composed two numbers, "Vicksville and "Out of It/Still Out of It (lyrics to the last by Nancie). The other dedicatees are Thad Jones, Joe Williams, Joe Knight, Roberta Davis, Leone Thomas, Eddie Jefferson and mentors Alberto Socarras and Edward Boatner.

"Vicksville, which opens the album (after pianist Terence Conley's kids, eight-year-old Brandon and three-year-old Joralyssa, shout "Bird Lives! in Spanish and French), is a mid-tempo blues that bounces easily along behind breezy solos by Clarence Banks, tenor Marshall McDonald, bassist Michael Max Fleming and guest trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater. Nancie Banks makes the first of her five vocal appearances on "All of Me, smartly arranged by the late Thad Jones. She's also heard on Bridgewater's arrangement of Vick's boppish "Out of It, Frank Foster's familiar "Shiny Stockings (lyrics by Ella Fitzgerald), Doug Miller's arrangement of Fats Waller's blues "That Ain't Right, and her own chart of Billy Strayhorn's placid "Chelsea Bridge coupled with "Victoria Bridge. Banks has a pleasant voice, sings with a lot of heart and is (was) quite charming in a generic sort of way.

Besides "Vicksville, the instrumentals are Thad Jones' playful "Greetings and Salutations and Dizzy Gillespie's flag-waving finale, "Bebop. Drummer Brian Grice solos on the former with Bridgewater and tenor Wayne Escoffery, on the latter with trombonist Stafford Hunter, alto Brad Leali and trumpeter James Zollar. Although Clarence Banks says Out of It was slapped together in a hurry, it's an above-average rush job by any measure, and the ensemble seems neither hurried, unprepared nor dispassionate. The recording quality is good, playing time (49:44) respectable if not overly generous. In the end, one's pleasure may rest on his or her fondness for Banks's vocal talents, as the orchestra itself offers scant cause for censure.

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Track Listing: Viva Bird!; Vicksville; All of Me; Out of It; Still Out of It; Chelsea Bridge / Victoria Bridge; Greetings and Salutations; Shiny Stockings; That Aint Right; Bebop (49:44).

Personnel: Nancie Banks: conductor, vocals; Rick Henly, Marty Bound, Lukas Froelich, James Zollar: trumpet; Enrique Fernandez, Brad Leali: alto sax, flute; Marshall McDonald: tenor sax, clarinet; Wayne Escoffery: tenor sax, flute; Irwin Snow: baritone sax; John Gordon, Clarence Banks, Stafford Hunter, Aaron A.J. Johnson: trombone; Jack Jeffers: tuba; Terence Conley: piano; Michael Max Fleming: bass; Brian Grice: drums. Guest trumpet soloist: Cecil Bridgewater.

Record Label: GFI Records

Style: Big Band


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