Arlen Plays Arlen is a celebration of the music of Harold Arlen recorded by his son, tenor saxophonist Sam Arlen, released during the centennial year of the legendary composer's birth. Comprised of performances by two big bands and one smaller, more intimate ensemble, the record is brassy, exuberant, and then unexpectedly tendermuch like Arlen's songs.
The performances alternate between Arlen's best-known compositions and other more obscure numbers. This song selection does a fine job of highlighting efforts that sound fresher for lack of being overplayed. The little known "That's A Fine Kind O' Freedom from 1965 kicks off the disc with a bluesy swagger. The next track, the warhorse "Come Rain Or Come Shine, is revitalized by being cast in an airy Latin arrangement. "Ill Wind (You're Blowing Me No Good)" is given an appropriately subdued and brooding treatment. Throughout, the bands play with real zest, led by Sam Arlen's unassuming statements.
From the strength of the music to the fine liner notes included, this album is done right. It is unfortunate that Harold Arlen may not be as well known personally as some of his contemporaries, but no classic pop songwriter has a stronger catalog. Sam Arlen has paid a wonderful tribute to his father by spotlighting the wonderful gifts of music that he gave the world.
Track Listing: That's A Fine Kind O' Freedom; Come Rain Or Come Shine; So Long, Big Time!; Stormy Weather (Keeps Raining All The Time); Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; Ill Wind (You're Blowing Me No Good); Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead/If I Only Had A Brain (Medley); Over The Rainbow; Moanin' In The Mornin'; Last Night When We Were Young; Let's Fall In Love; It's A New World
Personnel: On Songs 1,3,8: Sam Arlen-tenor saxophone; Richie Iacona-piano; Frank Vento-guitar; Madeline Kole-bass; Tony Tedesco-drums; Dave Trigg, Glenn Drewes, Joe Magnarelli, Andy Gravish-trumpets; Bruce Bonvissuto, Chris Culver, Gerard Carelli, George Flynn-trombones; Andy Fusco-alto saxophone; Gerry Niewood-alto saxophone and flute; Chuck Wilson, Garry Keller-tenor saxophone; Kristy Norter-baritone saxophone; Kenny Hassler, Edd Miller-percussion
On Songs 7,9,11,13: Harold Arlen-piano and vocal; Sam Arlen-tenor saxophone; Joan Arlen, Richie Iacona-piano; Frank Vento-guitar; Madeline Kole-bass; Tony Tedesco-drums; Bruce Bonvissuto-trombone; Nancy Smith-Bennett-French horn; Mineko Yajima, Laura Seaton-Finn, Susan Lorentsen, Sylvia D'Avanzo-violins; Shelly Holland-Moritz-viola; Dorothy Lawson-cello; Andy Fusco, Garry Keller-clarinets; Gerry Niewood, Chuck Wilson; Kristy Norter-bass clarinet; Edd Miller-percussion
On Songs 2,4,5,6,10,12: Sam Arlen-tenor saxophone; Richie Iacona-piano; Frank Vento-guitar; Madeline Kole-bass; Kenny Hassler-drums; Kenny Hassler, Edd Miller-percussion Joel Morris-vibraphone