Tony Allen: I Remember Front Street (2003)
Tom Brokaw describes the subjects of his latest book, The Greatest Generation as enjoying tremendous popularity. And there's a "best-kept secret" swing album that one could consider a tribute to that generation.
Tony Allen (a.k.a. Tony "Hooks" DeDominicus) has been singing for 50 years. Amazingly, at 76, his breezy, delightful timbre which at once evokes Como, Torme and Cole is timeless. Music's been good to him; now he's giving back. His publicist describes appearances at senior residences and the like with great frequency, beside his busy club appearance schedule "as a way to make people happy."
Everyone of a certain age has a "Front Street." The ability to identify with the feeling (not to mention the nice, bouncy arrangement and talented musicians) is nostalgic without being sugarcoated. I Remember Front Street begins with a tune that swings with that traditional style it's a new tune dressed-up as a swingin' standard and it works! 11 other standards follow in swinging jazz style. Nothing stale about the arrangements, either. This sentence sounds corny but dancers from 18 to 88 will be lured to the floor by an up-tempo "Love Letters with a wee bit of Latin flavor, "I Remember You, the hard-swinging "I Wish I Were In Love Again and another Latin-styled tune "Again. This is thanks to Ronan's innovative timekeeping and the simplicity and talent of keyboardist Jalbert. Jalbert, notably, utilizes the synthesizer sparingly when adding strings; to great effect.
"P.S., I Love You, "Two Sleepy People, and "I Remember You are classic WWII songs that make time with a loved one oh so romantic with unobtrusive but jazzy arrangements. Dancing becomes secondary when listening to Allen and team turn each melody into, after all these years together, a harmonic stylization. The restrained use of saxophonist Mills' decidedly jazzy solos is just perfect.
This opus started as a self-published bagatelle (Tony Allen's sixth) for local distribution. The tunes are now being heard on Dick Robinson's nationally-syndicated radio show; and other radio programs as well. The record I Remember Front Street is now available at CDBaby
Brokaw's book celebrates the "Greatest Generation in words. I Remember Front Street celebrates them in music. The popularity of the book is a harbinger of the nation's tremendous interest to celebrating this generation. Gold couldn't be far around the corner for this album in that case. The sublime way it embraces the music of that generation in a contemporary style that doesn't get old is a sure bet to please swingers of all generations.
Track Listing: 1. I Remember Front Street, 2. From Here to Eternity, 3. Love Letters, 4. P.S. I Love You, 5. Two Sleepy People, 6. I Remember You, 7. These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You), 8. When Your Lover Has Gone, 9. Don't Worry About Me, 10. I Wish I were In Love Again, 11. Again, 12. Thanks for the Memories
Personnel: Tony Allen, vocals, cabasa; Joe Ronan, drums; George Jalbert, piano and keyboards; John Mills, alto and tenor saxophone; Russ Elliott, bass.