The Jazz Orchestra of the Delta: Big Band Reflections of Cole Porter (2003)
The Delta in the Jazz Orchestra’s name refers to the Mississippi Delta, specifically around Memphis, TN, where the five-year-old JOD is based. Formed in 1998 by composer / arranger Jack Cooper, the eighteen-piece ensemble is comprised of some of the finest professional jazz and studio musicians in the area.
On its debut album, Big Band Reflections of Cole Porter, the JOD is bolstered by the remarkably talented trumpeter and big-band veteran, Memphis-born Marvin Stamm, who solos on four of the nine selections, and by a splendid guest vocalist, Sandra Dudley, who recently released her own solo CD. Stamm is alternately smooth and spicy on “It’s All Right with Me,” “Night and Day,” “Twelve” and “Ev’rything I Love,” and Dudley sings charmingly on “Love for Sale,” “Night and Day,” “From This Moment On” and a sensuous reading of “So in Love” from one of Porter’s many Broadway blockbusters, Kiss Me, Kate. It’s always delightful to hear a band singer with an abundance of poise and charisma, and Dudley is most certainly a pleasant surprise.
If you’re thinking that “Twelve,” one of the numbers on which Stamm performs, isn’t a Cole Porter song with which you are familiar, give yourself a pat on the back and an extra slice of pie. It’s not strictly Porter but drummer Peter Erskine’s elaboration on the upbeat “Easy to Love,” while Cooper’s “Two in Love” reframes another of Porter’s wonderful melodies, “I Love You.” The rest, however, is twenty-four carat Cole, from the breezy opener, “It’s All Right with Me,” to the zestful finale, “What Is This Thing Called Love,” the last a showcase for the JOD’s excellent pianist, Alvie Givhan. Others heard to good advantage are flutist John Lux and alto Mike Krepper (“Love for Sale”), tenors Andre Matlin (“So in Love”) and Tom Link (“From This Moment On”), Lux (alto) and flugel Tom Clary (“Two in Love”).
The JOD plays with notable power and precision, the rhythm section is keen and responsive, and every number, fast or slow, swings in the finest big-band tradition. Although the playing time is less than forty minutes, almost none of the time is misspent. Two enthusiastic thumbs up, one for the incomparable Cole Porter, the other for the JOD and its admirable guest artists.
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Personnel: Jack Cooper, music director, arranger; John Lux, alto sax, flute; Mike Krepper, alto sax, flute, clarinet; Tom Link, tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Andre Marlin, Jeff Huddleston, tenor sax, flute; Michael Scott, baritone sax, flute, bass clarinet; David Spencer, Reid McCoy, Ward Yager, Tom Clary, trumpet, flugelhorn; Greg Luscomb, Milton Aldana, Lance Green, Ken Spain, Jack Brumbaugh, trombone; Bill Flores, bass trombone; Kerry Mavassagh, guitar; Alvie Givhan, Gene Rush (6), piano; Tim Goodwin, Sam Shoup, bass; Bo Harris, James Sexton, drums; Ed Murray (2, 8), Latin percussion. Special guest artists -- Marvin Stamm, trumpet; Sandra Dudley, vocals.