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Hearing this fine aggregation from the jazz active Northwest section of our country should evoke many pleasant images of times past. "The Nearness of You" and "I only Have Eyes for You" medley brings to mind a soft summer evening with the big band playing on an outdoor bandstand for swaying dancers at a small town's annual July 4th celebration. (The band uses the medley device quite effectively with some distinctive combination of tunes.) At other times, there's the annual college prom when the band swings with killer diller arrangements. But for the most part, the music on this album leans more to the mellower side rather than pursuing high voltage pyrotechnics. Not the Blue Barron type of mellow by any means, but resembling Claude Thornhill. This softer is better approach reflects the arranging style of Gaylord Jones who has been in the music business for more than 50 years. Among his credits is a stint as band arranger for the Freddie Slack Orch. and its fine singer Ella Mae Morse. He also wrote "Rifette" which gained some popularity during the swing era of the 1940's.
The band is peppered by excellent players - among them the very fine multi-instrumentalist Jay Thomas - - and is obviously well rehearsed. The dynamics are there, but in a subtler manner than one normally hears these days. It's nice to hear a big band aggregation which doesn't feel it has to show musical macho by constantly blaring brass sections. Charlie May takes all the sax solos in the Zoot Sims/Stan Getz mode. He also does a little vocalizing with a pleasant voice that falls somewhere between Bobby Darin and Louis Prima. He's nicely presented on "Time after Time" and "Mack the Knife". The latter also features some of the best ensemble playing on the set. Little room is provided for other members of the band to solo, although Dave Peterson's guitar gets some individual licks in on "Perdido".
Recorded before an appreciative live audience, this CD is an exhilarating without being overbearing 60 minutes of modern big band swing. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Track Listing: Rifette; Undecided; Fly Me to the Moon; Time after Time; Medley: But Beautiful, You Go to My Head, You Are too Beautiful; Jeepers Creepers; Blue Skies; Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You; Medley: Don't Worry `Bout Me, September in the Rain, Over the Rainbow; Mack the Knife; Always; Medley: The Nearness of You, I Only Have Eyes for You; Perdido; Medley: Stairway to the Stars, Makin' Believe, Easy to Remember; There Will Never Be Another You; Medley: The Man I Love, I'm Confessin'
Personnel: Charlie May/Tenor Sax/Leader/Vocals; Gaylord Jones/Arrangements; Bill Ramsay, Tracy Knoop - Alto Sax; Jim Coile, Saul Cline - Tenor Sax; Greg Metcalf - Baritone Sax; Gary Shutes, Dan Marcus, Dave Marriott, Dave Bentley - Trombone; Randy Lintott, Jay Roulston, Jay Thomas, Lance Buller - Trumpet; John Hansen - Piano; Dave Peterson - Guitar; Larry Holloway - Bass; Greg Williamson - Drums