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A big band album that runs for less than 35 minutes and includes five vocal tracks. What can one say about that? Well, let's begin by accentuating the positive: the Texas Instruments Jazz Band, which marks its twentieth anniversary with AlgoRhythm, is a fairly decent ensemble, and obviously invested considerable time and energy in producing the album. The four instrumental tracks are actually pretty likable.
So much for the positive. Not to knock Judy Hester, but even though she's an able singer with a seductive voice and admirable diction, she is given far too much time and space to prove it. She's also one of a half-dozen "guest members of the ensemble who aren't employees or former employees of Texas Instruments (not counting director Kris Berg, head of the Jazz Studies department at Collin College in Plano, who qualifies because he owns a TI calculatorand he's the best foreman they could find).
Without Hester on board, the band performs Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation, Jimmy van Heusen's "Come Fly with Me, Bill Holman's "Kingfish (a tad too meekly) and Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn's "Time After Time, the arrangement of which is credited to Tommy Newsom but sounds suspiciously like Don Schamber's (one may even say exactly like Don's). The best among a garden-variety group of soloists are Drs. Gerry Burnham (tenor sax) and Rob Hicks (trumpet); pianist Scott Clemmons plays well on "Kingfish and "Time After Time.
Even though the TI Jazz Band's first album, Jazz BytesVersion 1.0, recorded seven years ago, had no less than half a dozen vocals by Hester's predecessor, Stephanie Mayo, at least there were five instrumentals, and the playing time was a shade above 41 minutes. While it's true they were paying attention when I wrote "next time, guys, please hold the Mayo, that wasn't meant as a green light to replace her with another pallid side dish in Hester.
In closing, a word of advice: if I were hosting a twentieth anniversary celebration, I wouldn't compel the guests to leave in less than 35 minutes. Let's hope the 25th is a longer and more pleasurable party.
Track Listing: Honeysuckle Rose; Kingfish; Time After Time; Gentle Rain; Come Fly with Me; Sweet Georgia Brown; Deed I Do; Invitation; Blue Skies (34:48).
Personnel: Kris Berg: director; Bennett Scott, Gary Pearce, Dennis Doane, Jim Gauthier, Rob Hicks: trumpet; Paul Westbrook, Trevor Pavey, Gerry Burnham, Pavel Krocak, Tom Hilburn: reeds; John Bush, Billy Pirkle, J.R. Hutto, Marshall Capps, Don Myers: trombone; Scott Clemmons: piano; Ron Iovine: guitar; Frank LoCrasto: bass; Joe Odneal, Stan Woodward: drums; Herbert Castro: percussion; Judy Hester: vocals.
Year Released: 2007
| Record Label: Self Produced
| Style: Big Band