Cecil Hill’s name is new to me, but if one is measured by the company he keeps, Mr. Hill must rate high in anyone’s book. While the music he “swings” is unequivocal Swing Era fare (and beyond) designed mainly for dancing, Hill has enlisted the services of such renowned players as (the late) trumpeter Conte Candoli, tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb and “vocalist” Med Flory (better known for his leading role in guiding the incomparable SuperSax) to lend their capable hands on Swings His Thing.
When the album was recorded in July 2000, Candoli surely must have been suffering from the cancer that would take him from us less than six months later, but there’s no hint of that here, as each of his solos is typically bright and resourceful as are Christlieb’s, on Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” and a campy version of Jerry Lieber / Mike Stoller’s R&B salute to the belly-dancing “Little Egypt.” For his part, Hill plays alto and tenor sax and sings either by himself (“Blue Monday,” “Since I Fell for You,” “Little Egypt”) or with Flory (“Two of a Kind,” “Flat Foot Floogie”). Even though he’s a capable player in the Jimmy Dorsey / Tab Smith mold, Hill’s strong suit is charm, which comes through loud and clear on every number.
While there’s nothing here that hasn’t been played a thousand or more times before, Hill and his supporting cast manage to roast the chestnuts well, from the Glenn Miller favorite “Serenade in Blue” to Jimmy Dorsey’s biggest hit, “So Rare.” Hill’s alto is featured on that one, as it is on “Town without Pity,” “Sabor a Mi” and “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Despite the towering presence of Candoli and Christlieb there’s not much thought-provoking jazz here, but there is a lot of good music, handsomely packaged by Cecil Hill and his talented friends.
Contact: Marhill Records, 9018 Balboa Blvd., Suite 516, Northridge, CA 91325. Phone 818- 363-5568.
Personnel: Cecil Hill, alto, tenor sax, vocals; Pete Christlieb, tenor sax; Randall Aldcroft, trombone; Robert