The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: Tribute to a Generation: A Salute to the Big Bands of the WWII Era (2004)
Read the subtitle of this album and you probably won't be disappointed. Look over the song list. Understand that these tunes do not include vocals. Issued to coincide with the recent unveiling of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Tribute to a Generation features tunes made famous by Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Benny Carter and Glenn Miller.
This album bears the hallmarks of the best Swing Era bands: tight ensemble playing, great solos (albeit brief at times), wonderful arranging and spirit. In the hands mostly of players who emerged long after the Swing Era, you may hear echoes of that era's great soloists (Artie Shaw, Ben Webster, Benny Carter), but not imitations. You'll hear terrific solos by (among others) Jim Carroll on "Ill Wind," Richard Centalonga on "Sepia Panorama," Gary Smulyan on "Chloe," and Ken Peplowski on "Mission to Moscow"; Tom Williams and saxophonists Loren Schoenberg and Victor Goines trade choruses on "Back Bay Boogie." Swing Era and WWII veteran Joe Wilder plays a tasty solo on "Swanee River" and a hot, but all too brief, one on "Rain Check."
Where's Count Basie? Ironically, he's among the few names on the back cover's description of the era's music, but not on the album itself. For the sake of some Basie, we could have done with one less Artie Shaw or Tommy Dorsey number. The other problem on this album is technical. At times, the soloists, especially clarinet, bass and piano, are under-recorded.
A 36-page booklet, mostly notes on the era and the selections, by "Hot Jazz Saturday Night" host Rob Bamberger, accompanies the album.
Track Listing: 1.Flying Home(3:17); 2.S'Wonderful(2:38); 3.Ill Wind(4:02); 4.Chloe(3:30); 5.Begin the Beguine(3:25); 6.Sepia Panorama(3:40); 7.Mission to Moscow(2.57); 8.Song of the Volga Boatmen(3:25); 9.Summertime(5:12); 10.Take the "A" Train(2:48); 11.Back Bay Boogie(4:38); 12.Cotton Tail(3:04); 13.Swanee River(3:13); 14.Rain Check(2:37); Back Bay Shuffle(3:15); 16.Just A-Settin' and A-Rockin'(3:46); 17.Hallelujah(2:56)
Personnel: Conductors: David Baker, Gunther Schuller. Saxophones: Jim Carroll, Art Dawkins, Bill Easley, Loren Schoenberg, Gary Smulyan, Steve Wilson, Richard Centalonza, Joe Temperley, Billy Pierece, Gene Smith, Louis Ford, Charlie Young, Carl Atkins, Victor Goines, Shannon LeClaire, Charles Russo, Jay Brandford, Dick Johnson, Ken Peplowski. Trumpet: Greg Gisbert, Charles Ellison, Virgil Jones, Mark VanCleave, Joe Wilder, Chris Royal, Lennie Foy, Tom Williams, Larry Wiseman.Trombone:Art Baron, Sam Burtis, Robin Eubanks, Brent Wallarab, David Steinmeyer, Wycliffe Gordon, Benny Powell, Britt Woodman, Bill Holmes. Piano: Sir Roland Hanna, Michael Weiss, Russell Wilson. Guitar: James Chirillo. Bass: John Goldsby, Michael Bowie, Keter Betts, Rufus Reid, Peter Washington. Drums: Tony Reedus, Kennith Kimery, Chuck Redd. Vibes: Chuck Redd.