Published since 1997
A former newspaper writer / editor who has been writing about jazz for more than twenty years.
Thanks to Wayne Dyess at Lamar University for letting us know about the Sounds Of Swing, a group of enthusiastic part-timers of various ages and backgrounds who are helping keep the flame of the swing era burning in their little corner of the world, specifically the east Texas area in and around Carthage. Bev Brown, SOS' drummer, sent two CDs for comment, one recorded in concert at Panola College in Carthage, the other presumably the same, although there's no suggestion of that on the album (but there's no doubt that an audience is there).
As Live! In Concert was recorded about six years ago it is most likely the earlier of the two discs, but it's unimportant, as there aren't many personnel moves between that one and Swingin' In Tall Cotton, the most notable being a change in female singers from Bethany Johnson to Janis Compton. The repertoire, as one would envision, consists largely of well-known songs made popular by such swing era behemoths as Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Count Basie and others, with a sprinkling of more recent tunes and a handful of original compositions. The approach is dependably old-school, with tried-and-true arrangements the norm.
There are eight vocals on Live!, five by Johnson (including a tepid duet with trumpeter Grady Kyle on "Yes Indeed ), one more by Kyle ("It's Been A Long, Long Time ) and one each by tenor saxophonist Ralph Marshall (Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are ) and trumpeter Terry Dorsey ("Stormy Monday Blues ). Compton is given equal time with five vocals on Tall Cotton, and Kyle is heard twice, on "Marie and "San Antonio Rose. Trumpeter/music director Wallace Read is featured on the rhythmic "Latin Fantasy, he and Dorsey on "Memories Of You," tenor saxophonist Mike McGowan on "Old Man River and "Georgia On My Mind," alto saxophonist Bill Bailey on "My One And Only Love, and alto saxophonist Charlie Head on "Harlem Nocturne.
Sounds Of Swing
Swingin' In Tall Cotton
No date given
Tall Cotton opens nicely with instrumental versions of "Sweet Georgia Brown and "Tuxedo Junction before introducing Compton on Cole Porter's "You Do Something To Me. Tenor saxophonist Lynn Cooper is the lone soloist on "Georgia Brown, trumpeter Kyle on "Serenade In Blue, flugelhornist Pat Griffin on "All The Things You Are, Dorsey on a medley of "I'll Never Smile Again and "For All We Know, trumpeter Ron Ashcraft on "Sing, Sing, Sing and "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me, trombonist Ken Barnes on "Fever and a "Salute To The Bands medley. The SOS even take a shot at George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue.
After noting that what the Sounds Of Swing is doing is admirable in and of itself, the question remains, how does one gauge these performances? Having already ruffled some feathers by comparing another Texas-based ensemble to a high-school band, we won't go that route again, but concede instead that the SOS give everything they do the old college try. Okay, so the brass and reeds aren't always in sync, there are a fair amount of clams and blown notes, tempos sometimes drag, the vocalists aren't always on key, and the rhythm section could use more oomph, but that's true of many bands whose members aren't working musicians and whose only reward is the joy of playing, especially when they are performing for an audience. What's important is that the Sounds Of Swing are actually doing something positive by helping to safeguard and sustain some of the greatest music ever written, as well as advancing America's stature as the birthplace of jazz. Now, that has to be a good thing.
Tracks and Personnel
Live! In Concert
Tracks: Old Man River; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; Stormy Monday Blues; Almost Like Being In Love; Tippin' In; My One And Only Love; Harlem Nocturne; September In The Rain; Unforgettable; Boogie Blues; It's Been A Long, Long Time; Latin Fantasy; Memories Of You; All Right, Okay, You Win; Georgia On My Mind; Just The Way You Are; Yes Indeed; One O'Clock Jump.
Personnel: Wallace Read: music director, trumpet; Grady Kyle, Terry Dorsey: trumpet, vocals; Pat Griffin, Ron Ashcraft (1, 6-9, 14-18), J.T Pundt (10-13): trumpet; Charlie Head, Bill Bailey: alto saxophpne; Ralph Marshall, Mike McGowan (1, 6-9, 14-18), Lynn Cooper (2-5): tenor saxophone; George Taylor: baritone saxophone; Ken Barnes, Joe Wooley, Brad Evans, Jerry Vinson (10-13), Dwaine Hubbard (2-5), Jim Connor (1, 6-9, 14-18): trombone; Jerry Hale: piano, keyboards; Kevin Kelley: bass; Bev Brown: drums, emcee; Bethany Johnson, Ralph Marshall: vocals.
Swingin' In Tall Cotton
Tracks: Sweet Georgia Brown; Tuxedo Junction; You Do Something To Me; Serenade In Blue; Tall Cotton; Rhapsody In Blue; I've Heard That Song Before; I Had The Craziest Dream; All The Things You Are; Medley: I'll Never Smile Again, For All We Know; San Antonio Rose; Mood Indigo; Embraceable You; Bill Bailey; Nobody Loves You Like I Do; Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me; Sing, Sing, Sing; Fever; Marie; Dream; Salute To The Bands Medley: The Sound Of Music, Let's Dance, Marie, Ciribiribin, Amapola, Take The "A Train, April In Paris, Begin The Beguine, In The Mood.
Personnel: Grady Kyle: trumpet, vocals; Pat Bailey, Pat Griffin, Terry Dorsey, Ron Ashcraft: trumpet; Lynn Cooper, Bill Bailey, Mike McGowan, Ralph Marshall, George Taylor: reeds; Dwaine Hubbard, Ken Barnes, Joe Wooley, Chris Witt: trombone; Jerry Hale: music director, piano; Ben Carter: bass; Bev Brown: drums; Janis Compton: vocals.
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