Lance Buller and the Monarchs: Hipsters' Paradise (2002)
More nouveau swing courtesy of Pony Boy Records, one of the West Coast’s leading purveyors of same. The headliners this time around are trumpeter / vocalist Lance Buller and the Monarchs who pay the usual respects to the “three Louis” (Armstrong, Jordan, Prima) while adding a few spices of their own to the mix and even tossing in some standards (“Body and Soul,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” “Easy Living”). Armstrong is represented by “Someday You’ll Be Sorry,” Jordan by “ChooChooChBoogie,” Prima by “That Old Black Magic,” “How Can You Tell About Me” and the obligatory “Jump, Jive and Wail.” Bullard’s saxophonist, Charlie May, leads his own swing band, as does guest drummer Greg Williamson (“Why Didn’t I Tell You,” “Body and Soul,” “Easy Living”) who doubles (trebles?) as Pony Boy’s commanderinchief. May is impressive on his showcase, “Body and Soul,” which was recorded in concert (the rest of the album was taped in a studio). Buller, who’s a fairly good singer, and Stephanie Porter try a Louis Prima / Keely Smith impersonation on “Black Magic” but they’re clearly no match for their brilliant predecessors. On the other hand, Buller’s two compositions — “Hipsters’ Paradise,” “Why Didn’t I Tell You” — are quite engaging and far above the norm, while Porter fares much better on Mary Martin’s Broadway showstopper, Cole Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” “Someday You’ll Be Sorry” is another highlight, thanks in part to Jack Perciful’s expressive piano, Buller’s luminous trumpet and tasteful comping by bassist Larry Holloway and drummer Julian MacDonough, as is the ballad “Easy Living,” for the same reasons (with Williamson sitting in for MacDonough). The Monarchs place tongues firmly in cheek for a “special appearance” by the J.L. (Jerry Lewis) Jazz Band on a brief (1:21) rendition of “Bye Blackbird” before closing the program with “Rocking Chair” (Teagardenstyle trombone and vocal by Gary Aleshire) and Brown / Henderson / Rose’s delightful but seldomplayed swinger, “Dummy.” A goodnatured romp with a numbe of delightful surprises. Swing fans should warm to it in a heartbeat.
Track Listing: Hipsters
Personnel: Lance Buller, trumpet, vocals; Charlie May, sax, background vocals; Gary Aleshire, trombone, background vocals, vocal on