John MacLeod & His Rex Hotel Orchestra / Tim Davies Big Band / New England Jazz Ensemble
Gates, an ultra-hip singer in the image of Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg and others, is smooth and eloquent, singing and scatting effortlessly on his three numbers, Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Hazel's Hips," the Gershwin brothers' "Lady Be Good" (tied to "Disappointed," lyrics by Eddie Jefferson) and "Jeannine," while Abercrombie quickly shows who's in charge on "Folk," "Business" and "Labour Day," fashioning resonant single-note lines with ease and authority while the ensemble provides a colorful backdrop. Everyone returns for the buoyant finale, which encompasses enterprising solos by Ryerson, Abercrombie, Mele and bassist Steve Bulmer along with more congruous scatting by Gates. Others who forge impressive solos along the way include tenors Larry Dvorin and Mike Leventhal, trumpeters Steve Fitzko and Phil Person.
When all is said, done and written, this was indeed A Grand Night for Swinging, and those who showed up at the Polish National Home in Hartford, CT, on that memorable evening in June 2010 were fortunate to be there. For those who weren't, this marvelous CD is the next best thing.
The Other Duke: Tribute to Duke Pearson
New Jersey-based Swingadelic describes itself as a "swing band" with elements of blues, soul, hard bop and funk thrown into the blender. There's certainly a lot of each on The Other Duke, Swingadelic's warm salute to the late Duke Pearson, much of which revisits Pearson's soul-drenched charts from the 1960s and 1970s. Best-known among them are "Jeannine," which has become a jazz standard, and the sauntering "Cristo Redentor," named after the celebrated statue of Christ in Corcovado. Pearson wrote all the others save for "Mississippi Dip" (George Andrews), "Duke's Mixture" (Donald Byrd) and "New Time Shuffle" (Joe Sample). "Shuffle" first appeared on the album Introducing the Duke Pearson Big Band (Blue Note, 1967), as did "Mississippi Dip."
While Swingadelic barely qualifies as a big band, it coaxes a full-bodied sound from a mini-lineup of two trumpets, two trombones, three saxophones and four-member rhythm section. The band has been together for some years now, performing at dances, parties, fund-raisers, picnics, weddings and other events in the New York City area and beyond, and the experience pays off here, shaping a performance that is assertive and clean. If there's a downside, it lies in the chance that a steady diet of "soul food" may leave some listeners engorged. They should be apprised of what is on the menu before ordering the first course.
Having said that, it should be pointed out that the "food" is certainly well-cooked, as Swingadelic's hard-working chefs do their utmost to garnish Pearson's comestibles with the utmost care. The session opens with the romping boogaloo "Mississippi Dip," arranged by leader / tenor saxophonist Paul Carlon, then dispatches some spicy "Chili Peppers" before moving on to "Cristo Redentor" and "Jeannine." Pearson wrote the light-hearted "Big Bertha" (nice muted trumpet by Albert Leusink or Carlos Francis) and ambling "Sweet Honey Bee" (flute solo courtesy of Carlon, electric piano by John Bauers), which precede Byrd's deeply grooved "Mixture." Two more compositions by Pearson, the straight-on "Sudel" and emphatic "Ready Rudy," lead to the robust finale, Sample's "New Time Shuffle." Soloists aren't listed but there are engaging turns by Carlon, Bauers, alto Audrey Welber, baritone Jeff Hackworth, guitarist Boo Reiners and others. Reiners, Bauers, bassist Dave Post and drummer Paul Pizzuti comprise a well-oiled rhythm section.
This is a tribute that Duke Pearson would certainly have appreciated, as will those who admire the singular "Blue Note sound" of the 1960s and 1970s, earnestly re-created by Swingadelic.
Peter Tenner JazzOrchester
On 10117 Berlin, the listener is introduced to Peter Tenner's well-endowed JazzOrchester by way of Peter Ehwald's unaccompanied soprano saxophone, which bestrides the opening minute of Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are," the first of Tenner's ten resourceful arrangements. Tenner, who teaches music theory at the Jazz Institute Berlin, also composed half a dozen numbers, and each one is bright, engaging and earnestly performed by the ensemble.
Besides reinvigorating "All the Things You Are," Tenner does much the same for Dizzy Gillespie's warhorse "A Night in Tunisia," the Peggy Lee favorite "Fever" (pleasantly sung here by guest artist Jessica Gall) and the German folk song "So trieben wir den Winter aus." His own themes are no less impressive, from the light-hearted "Zuhuuu!," introspective "10117 Berlin" and picturesque "March in Edinburgh" (with its charming echoes of bagpipes) to the peaceful "Lassen," passionate "Choral" and piquant "Filmmusik."