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Danish Radio Big Band: A Good Time Was Had By All

Jack Bowers By

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To mark its fiftieth anniversary in 2014, the Danish Radio Big Band produced a wide-ranging six-CD set encompassing highlights from the years 1964-2014 while spotlighting a number of well-known guest artists from the U.S. and elsewhere. The band is heard in studio and in concert, at home and abroad, and is sometimes referred to as the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra (having begun life as the New Radio Dance Orchestra).

All of the material herein has been previously issued, chosen from various albums recorded by the band with or without guest artists. The chronological anthology starts on a rather enigmatic note, as the four opening numbers on Disc 1 (The Early Years 1964-74) were actually recorded in October 1988 when the band's first conductor, Ib Glindemann (1964-68), returned for a studio encore. Track 5, on the other hand, on which Glindemann also conducts, was recorded, we are told, in Copenhagen in 1966. Stan Kenton's is the first big name to appear; the Kenton Orchestra (actually the DRBB with Kenton conducting from the piano) is represented by three tracks recorded during Kenton's tour of Denmark in March 1966. The other American standout to appear on Disc 1 is tenor saxophonist Ben Webster who is heard on half a dozen numbers.

Trumpeter Thad Jones is the focal point on Disc 2, leading the band on six tracks from the album Live at The Montmartre. The rest of the disc is devoted to the DRBB's first U.K. tour in 1987. Disc 3, Home and Abroad 1991-96, includes Ernie Wilkins conducting his composition "Nervous Charlie" (from the album Suite for Jazz Band) and guest appearances by percussionist Peter Reim, vocalist Georgie Fame, composer / conductor John Sund, vocalist Marie Bergman, saxophonist Tony Coe, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and trumpeter Art Farmer. Brookmeyer reappears with pianist Eliane Elias on Disc 4, which also features three tracks by pianist Django Bates from the album Like Life and three more by the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra from Ways of Seeing.

Alto Phil Woods, uncredited on the jacket cover, opens Disc 5 with "Triple Metamorphosis" from the album More Jazz Visits 1997-99. The other guests on that disc are vocalist Silvana Malta, conductor Niels Jurgen Steen and pianist Martial Solal. The last disc, covering the years 1999-2001 and 2014, includes guest appearances by pianists Thomas Clausen and Michel Camilo and conductors Jim McNeely and Palle Mikkelborg (a former mainstay in the DRBB's trumpet section). According to the booklet, the band has performed over the years with such jazz luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Oliver Nelson, Mary Lou Williams, George Russell, Maynard Ferguson, Clifford Jordan, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Jimmy Heath, Freddie Hubbard and Yusef Lateef. The inclusion of some of their work in the retrospective would have been gratifying, but one can't have everything. It should be noted that the music chosen is by and large first-rate. And while sound quality is inescapably variable, it is seldom less than adequate (an exception would be Brigit Bruel's two vocals, circa 1974, at the end of Disc 1).

For those who may not have the albums from which these components were taken, A Good Time Was Had By All should serve as a splendid introduction to the durable and talented Danish Radio Big Band (and Jazz Orchestra). The appearance of so many well-known American stars is icing on the cake.

Track Listing: Disc 1: The Early Years 1964-74 – It’s the Talk of the Town; Ray’s Idea; My Old Flame; Zoot; To og to er fem; Malaguena; Stella by Starlight; Yesterdays; Things Ain’t What They Used to Be; Cry Me a River; Stompy Jones; Did You Call Her Tonight; Old Folks; Tempus Incertum Remanet Part 1; Bojangles; But Not for Me; Once I Loved. Disc 2: Thad Jones 1978; First UK Tour 1987 – The Farewell; Kids Are Pretty People; I Got Rhythm; Ebbe Skammelson; Dancing Girls; A Good Time Was Had By All; Say It; Malus Scorpio Ritus; Crackdown; Vismanden. Disc 3: Home and Abroad 1991-96 – Nervous Charlie; Day Dream; Dedicacion a Santo Domingo; I Put a Spell on You; City Life; Right On – Off; You Don’t Know What Love Is; All of Me; But Beautiful; Capt. Coe’s Famous Racearound; Fools Rush In; Was It You? Disc 4: Django Bates, Bob Brookmeyer, Eliane Elias Australia 1997 – Once a Penguin, Always a Penguin; The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst; Nights at the Circus; Just Kiddin’; So in Love; One Side of You; The Pathfinder; Dear Lord; Wild Bill. Disc 5: Silvana Malta, Niels Jorgen Steen, Martial Solal 1997-99 – Triple Metamorphosis; Suingando; Back to Brazil; In a Mellow Tone; Second Line; The Governor; DRJO No. 1; Monster Piece; El Coulisse. Disc 6: Thomas Clausen, Palle Mikkelborg, Jim McNeely & Michel Camilo 1999-2004 & 2014 – Time Remembered; Oktober Nat; Show Type Tune; The Forest; Those Who Build; Joy; Hotter Than That; The Power and the Glory; Why Not.

Personnel: Varies from disc to disc. Special guests include Lise Reinau, Stan Kenton, Ben Webster, Birgit Bruel (Disc 1); Thad Jones (Disc 2); Ernie Wilkins, Peter Reim, Georgie Fame, John Sund, Marie Bergman, Tony Coe, Bob Brookmeyer, Art Farmer (Disc 3); Django Bates, Eliane Elias, Bob Brookmeyer (Disc 4); Phil Woods, Silvana Malta, Niels Jurgen Steen, Martial Solal (Disc 5); Thomas Clausen, Jim McNeely, Palle Mikkelborg, Leroy Jones, Michel Camilo (Disc 6).

Title: A Good Time Was Had By All | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Storyville Records

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