The City Rhythm Orchestra: Swingin' Blue / Goin' to Town
On Goin’ to Town one has a chance to hear how the City Rhythm Orchestra sounds without DeFrancesco (or did when this studio date was recorded, in June–July 1994) — and on balance it sounds pretty good. The program is divided equally between instrumentals and vocals, with the latter handled by baritone Steve Ritrovato who’s no Ray Charles (“Georgia on My Mind”), Bobby Darin (“Mack the Knife”) or Joe Williams (“Alright, Okay, You Win”) but has his own winning way with a song. The orchestra sounds more polished but a touch less exuberant in a studio setting, goin’ to town full–throttle only on Joe Matt’s title selection, which closes the album. While one doesn’t necessarily yearn for DeFrancesco, there’s no doubt he’d have elevated the temperature. The solos on Goin’ to Town are relatively brief and perfunctory, with no one given enough space in which to develop fully his prefatory thesis. Matt’s crystalline trumpet is featured on his arrangement of “Melancholy Rhapsody” (from the film Man with the Golden Arm ) but he plays more in the vein of a Ray Anthony or Doc Severinsen than, say, Dizzy Gillespie or Miles Davis. “Rhapsody” is followed by a showcase for the trombone section, Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris” (but with no solos). This is a respectable big–band session whose basic appeal lies in its sturdy ensemble work and a number of nicely grooved charts (“Sing Sing Sing,” “As Time Goes By,” “Like Someone in Love,” “I’m Standin’ Pat,” “Goin’ to Town”).
Contact:City Rhythm Orchestra, 2450 Turner Road, Willow Grove, PA 19090; 215–551–1086. Web site, www.cityrhythm.com
Track Listing: Swingin
Style: Big Band