Ed Wilson's Wacky Big Band: Live Featuring Jeff Duff (2002)
After a shaky start on “Mack the Knife,” Duff, an audacious, swaggering former punk rockerand a snazzy cross-dresser, according to the album’s bookletquickly reclaims his balance. He's quite impressive on “Bad Habits” and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and really hits his stride on “Mr. Bojangles” and “I’m a Believer” (abetted on the latter by full-time saxophonist and part-time “preacher” David Glyde). For someone with his free-spirited resumé, Duff seems not the least bit out of place or uncomfortable in front of a rafter-rattling Jazz ensemble. Meanwhile, the orchestra knifes through such uncommon fare as Chuck Mangione’s “Children of Sanchez,” Henry Mancini’s theme from “Peter Gunn,” Wilson’s “Take It Easy” and the gospel tune “This Ol’ House” while meticulously revising two chapters from the Maynard Ferguson library, “Birdland” and “MacArthur Park.” Duff sings the anthem “Advance Australia Fair,” and there are marvelous arrangements by Wilson of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (combined with “Dixie,” or as the Aussies prefer, “Glory, Glory to South Sydney”) and the traditional “Waltzing Matilda” before those “seventeen wacky musicians” ring down the curtain with a brief but whimsical version of “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” (wish we could have seen that one). As we’ve remarked often that big bands (and Jazz groups as a whole) should be entertaining as well as hip, Ed Wilson’s Wacky Big Band warrants an enthusiastic thumbs-up, even though a video would have been even more delightful (the photos on the album cover and insert are positively tantalizing).
Contact: Wilson Publishing, P/L, P.O. Box 519, Terrigal, NSW, 2260, Australia. Phone (02) 4384 1436; fax (02) 4384 6109; web sites , www.wilsonpubcom.au and www.netspace.net.au/~wellsm/wacky/ ; email email@example.com
Track Listing: Children of Sanchez; Mack the Knife; Peter Gunn; Bad Habits; Take It Easy; Bad, Bad Leroy Brown; Birdland; Minnie the Moocher; This Ol
Personnel: Ed Wilson, leader, trombone; Jeff Duff, vocals; Trevor Griffin, Casey Greene, David Glyde, Marty Hill, Steve Fitzmaurice, reeds; Danny May, Ross Connors, Anthony Gulick, Ralph Pyl, Tim Egan, trumpet; Anthony Bartlett, Mark Barnsley, Mark Brown, trombone; Rod Herbert, bass trombone; Tony Gardner, piano; Saul Richardson, guitar; David Clayton, bass; John Morrison, drums; Esther Wilson, percussion.
Record Label: WP
Style: Big Band